Campbell and Ruhan choose Wragges for Thistle purchase

Wragge & Co has won its first instruction from Midlands entrepreneur Alan Campbell, after he and longstanding Wragges client Andy Ruhan teamed up to buy hotel chain Thistle from Orb Estates.

Ruhan and Campbell formed a new vehicle named Atlantic Hotels to buy the 37-hotel group for around £700m. It is thought the payment includes around £155m in cash, and around £530m of securitised debt.

Orb has been looking to offload the hotels for some time in a bid to reimburse a number of creditors, including Morgan Stanley, which financed Orb’s initial purchase of Thistle, and has again provided financing for this deal. It is thought that Ruhan will also purchase Orb’s stake in cash shell Izodia. Orb is currently in a legal wrangle with Izodia over approximately £33m, which the shareholders of the cash shell alleged was incorrectly transferred to Orb. The incident led to an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. Orb has denied any wrongdoing.

Wragges was approached by Ruhan to pitch for this work along with a City firm and another Birmingham rival. Wragges has advised Ruhan for 16 years, including acting on the sale of Ruhan’s former company Global Switch to Chelsfield last year. Campbell, however, has not used the firm before. In March, his company Chester Holdings, advised by Tarlo Lyons, purchased Southend Property Holdings from Hampton Trust Group.

The Wragges team was led by corporate partner Nick Smith, although the client relationship partner for Ruhan is property partner Mark Dakeyne.

Longstanding adviser Fladgate Fielder advised Orb.

Morgan Stanley was advised by Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.