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Zuber Issa to acquire UK arm of EG Group by the end of June

Zuber and Mohsin Issa
Zuber and Mohsin Issa

Zuber Issa is set to acquire the UK arm of EG Group in a bid to cut its debt pile, the firm has said, in the latest sign of an apparent rift between the billionaire Issa brothers.

The deal, which excludes the Cooplands bakery, some Starbucks stores, and EG’s electric vehicle charging business Evpoint, is set to be concluded by the end of next month.

It would mark the latest in a string of disposals made by EG Group since the start of last year, including the sale of most of its UK petrol forecourts to Asda and the sale of more than 200 KFC stores in the UK and Ireland to Yum! Brands.

“We are currently engaged in active discussions with Zuber Issa and his advisers regarding the sale of the retained UK business...with a view to announcing a binding agreement in the second quarter of 2024,” the company said in its accounts published earlier in May.

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“We would expect to use the net cash proceeds from the sale to further reduce our secured indebtedness.”

The deal is the latest step in the separation of assets held jointly between billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who over the past two decades have built a multinational retail and petrol forecourt business from scratch via a series of debt-fueled acquisitions. In an interview with the BBC Mohsin Issa has denied any rift with his brother.

Zuber Issa is also reportedly seeking to sell his stake in Asda, which the pair acquired in 2021, to private equity business TDR Capital. Asda CFO Michael Gleeson has said the Issas are committed to running the supermarket ‘for the long haul’.

A surge in interest rates over the past two years has put strain on the pair’s business empire, who undertook a major debt reorganisation in a bid to deleverage. EG Group said it has now refinanced all of its debt due to have matured in 2025 “against a backdrop of a very challenging leveraged finance and high-yield corporate bond market.”

Earlier this month supermarket Asda, which has inherited some of EG Group’s debt after acquiring much of its UK forecourt business, said it had refinanced £3.2 billion in loans, including the biggest Sterling high-yield bond this year and the second-largest sterling bond in the European leveraged finance market – only behind Asda’s original £2.25 billion Sterling bond tranche in 2021.

EG Group posted revenues of $28.3 billion for 2023, down 7% on last year, while the disposals helped it to a profit of $1.5 billion.