Tchenguiz looks to Dentons to help reinvigorate pub group

Longstanding Kirkland & Ellis client Robert Tchenguiz has turned to Denton Wilde Sapte for advice on restructuring a 400-strong pub portfolio.

The firm is acting as lead adviser to the property tycoon’s investment vehicle R20 on the restructuring of the Laurel pub group, whose brands include Ha! Ha!, Slug and Lettuce and Yates’s.

In the first step of the restructuring the Laurel group was placed into administration under advice from Dentons restructuring partner Graham Paine. Administrator Kroll was advised by Sidley Austin partner Patrick Corr.

Tchenguiz’s La Tasca group then bought back all but 90 of the original pubs, also under advice from Paine, before the group was split into separate restaurant and pub businesses.

Dentons partner Michael Black, who gave finance-related advice to R20, said: “The main issue with this transaction was that there were a number of traditional boozers in the portfolio where trading performance had dwindled. A number of pubs were bringing down the whole trading performance, while there was a core of healthy businesses.

“R20 and Robert Tchenguiz wanted to put the group into administration, leaving behind those dragging down performance, then immediately buy out all the remaining assets.”

Finance for the transaction was provided by Dresdner Kleinwort and Kaupthing, which had refused to refinance the portfolio unless Laurel got rid of the 90 loss-making pubs. Slaughter and May partner Simon Hall advised the banks and Dentons real estate partner Andrew Hill gave property advice on the transaction.

Tchenguiz is a long-standing client of former Kirkland & Ellis partner Raymond McKeeve, who has joined the property magnate as an investment professional. Dentons had worked alongside McKeeve on transactions in the past, providing advice on issues such as employment and pensions.?Tchenguiz remains a Kirkland client on corporate matters.