"We intend to defend the challenge vigorously."
Lord Alan Sugar has now joined with the Issa brothers’ Caffe Nero takeover bid.
The Blackburn-born billionaires are currently funding an attempt by Caffe Nero’s landlords to block the coffee chain’s insolvency arrangements, which would see them lose outstanding rent payments.
The brothers are funding the challenge in order to leave the chain with no other option but to sell itself to EG Group.
Meanwhile, it is believed that Lord Sugar’s company filed its involvement in the challenge on December 24, 2020.
A Caffe Nero spokesperson said: “We intend to defend the challenge vigorously.
“In the meantime, we remain focussed on managing the business through the current Covid-19 enforced trading restrictions, and re-growing our sales in the months and years ahead.”
Lord Sugar’s representatives have not issued a statement on the matter but have confirmed The Apprentice star’s involvement in the bid.
Mohsin and Zuber Issa had expressed an interest in the popular coffee chain, however, their offer was rejected by founder Jerry Ford, who instead opted for insolvency.
Caffe Nero currently employs approximately 5,000 people across the UK.
Under the current plans, Caffe Nero’s rents are set to be cut as part of a company voluntary arrangement agreed as part of the insolvency process.
However, such arrangements are controversial as landlords to the coffee chain’s branches are set to lose much of their outstanding rent if this were to proceed.
The Issa brothers and their backers, which now include Alan Sugar, have responded by hoping that by backing landlords’ legal challenge to the process, the entire insolvency process can be derailed, allowing Caffe Nero to be taken over by EG Group.
The landlords to the chain’s outlets are largely smaller property holders and as such this backing will come as a major boost.
A Caffe Nero spokesperson said: “We still firmly believe the terms of the company voluntary arrangement, which passed with over 90 per cent support, are in the best interests of all our creditors and we will openly engage with any landlord who wishes to discuss it further.”
EG Group has not commented on the matter. They previously said it would be the perfect owner for Caffe Nero even though its previous bid was rejected.
The Issa brothers made the headlines in October 2020 after they purchased supermarket chain Asda for £6.8 million.