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Legal wrangle threatens JJW's €1.5b purchase of nine Starwood hotels – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

07 September 2009 by
Legal wrangle threatens JJW's €1.5b purchase of nine Starwood hotels – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Legal wrangle threatens JJW's €1.5b purchase of nine Starwood hotelsRead the full article in The Times >>
Antony Worrall Thompson in wrangle over fine wines
Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson has become entangled in a wrangle over £36,000-worth of fine wine with the administrator of his former restaurant group, AWT Restaurants, which collapsed earlier this year with debts of £800,000. Administrators at BHG Insolvency Practitioners are in dispute with ADP Wines, a company set up by Worrall Thompson to supply his restaurants and which continues to supply three of the restaurants the chef has since reopened. ADP claims ownership of the disputed wines, which amount to a few hundred bottles , the most expensive worth around £100. "I am not directly involved in the situation and am trying to put the administration behind me," Worrall Thompson told the Sunday Times. -6 September, Read the full article in the Sunday Times >> Center Parcs may form part of £2b flotation of Merlin Entertainment
The planned £2b flotation on the London Stock Exchange of Merlin Entertainments - the world's largest entertainment group after Disney - may include the Center Parcs resorts. Merlin's owner, private-equity group Blackstone, is considering adding the Center Parcs group it acquired in 2006 to Merlin's other assets - such as Madame Tussauds, Warwick Castle, Legoland and the London Eye - to ensure the deal is large enough to propel Merlin into the FTSE 100. Although the flotation was expected to take place in the second half of 2010, the recent stock market rally has encouraged Merlin and Blackstone to make their move sooner. According to a leading leisure sector banker, "They are trying to do this as soon as possible - quarter one 2010 or even quarter four this year." Merlin has debts in excess of £1b. ¬- 6 September, Read the full article in the Independent on Sunday >> Whitbread closes final-salary pension for all staff
Premier Inn and Costa Coffee owner Whitbread has become the latest company to end its final-salary pension for all staff. The scheme, which was shut to new entrants in 2002, was suffering from a deficit of £233m at the end of February compared with £33m the year before but Whitbread denies that the shortfall has prompted its move. Some 800 staff (about 3% of the workforce) will be transferred to the more risky defined-contribution scheme which is based on rises and falls in investment markets rather than earnings. Whitbread will extend the defined-contribution scheme to a further 14,000 staff (making 28,000 of its 33,000 staff eligible for a pension) and increase company contributions to the scheme. "The changes will bring the pension benefits across the business into line and ensure that we offer a fair provision of pension benefits to all," said Whitbread pensions director Lesley Williams. - 5 September, Read the full article in The Times >>
Jamie Oliver slams Downing Street kitchens as worse than prison
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has condemned the kitchens in Downing Street as being more poorly-equipped than many prison kitchens. Appearing on the Friday Night With Jonathan Ross show on Friday, Oliver was less than complimentary about the state of the Gordon Brown's kitchen, where he cooked for leaders of the G20 summit earlier this year. "They've got the worst kitchens in England at Number 10 - terrible. Wandsworth Prison has better gear than Downing Street," said the chef, who added that he would love to cook for Barack Obama. Promoting his new Channel 4 series, Jamie's American Road Trip, Oliver served up a helping of bull's testicles - known as Rocky Mountain Oysters - to the chat show host. - 5 September, Read the full article in the Daily Telegraph >> Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall stands up for doggy bags
TV chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has backed a call in Waitrose Magazine for British diners to overcome their shyness and ask for doggy bags to take home leftover food. According to WRAP, Britons throw away 20 million tonnes of food each year, including three million tonnes from restaurants. Fearnley Whittingstall said it was a shame to waste good food and insisted that chefs did not frown upon doggy bags. "I've eaten in some pretty fancy places - I've asked for doggy-bags in Michelin-starred restaurants," he said. "People would rather be asked for a doggy-bag than have food coming back into the kitchen on a plate which suggests they didn't really like it." Other leading chefs such as Chris Galvin and Michel Roux Jnr also back the practice, which is common in America. - 6 September, Read the full article on BBC News Online >>
Political row risks extinction of Mediterranean bluefin tuna
The fate of the endangered bluefin tuna could be decided on Thursday when European Commission president Manuel Barroso will try to end a damaging battle over proposals to ban the sale of the fish. The tuna, whose flesh can cost tens of thousands of pounds, is tracked by spotter planes and illegally fished by organised crime gangs from Italy. Conservationists fear that eleventh-hour attempts to save the species from extinction have been undermined by fierce opposition from Malta, Italy and Spain and intense lobbying from Japan, which values the fish for sushi. WWF and Greenpeace fear that Britain, France and other northern European countries are weakening in the face of this opposition, which has led to a head-on clash between Joe Burg, Malta's fisheries commissioner, and his counterpart Stavros Dimas, who backs the ban. - 6 September, Read the full article in the Scotsman >> By Angela Frewin

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