Cafe Rouge set to be offloaded to Apollo funds

 
Michael Bow
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VULTURE fund Apollo Global Management is on the verge of wresting control of the struggling owner behind popular restaurant brands Cafe Rouge and Strada.

Apollo, which buys the loans of struggling firms, has snapped up a substantial portion of the debt in the restaurant’s parent company Tragus Group, which is owned by Blackstone.

The purchase means Tragus, which is swimming in £324.6m of debt, is likely to be turned over to Apollo in a debt for equity swap, with a deal expected before the start of the summer.

It will end a difficult period for Blackstone’s stewardship of Tragus, which fell to a heavier pre-tax loss in 2013 of £36.1m, up from a loss of £18.4m in the previous year, according to recent accounts.

The company has about £250m of the £324.6m in the form of long-term bank loans, which are set to be restructured by Apollo.

Blackstone pre-empted the sell off last month by taking its senior managing director Andrea Valeri off the board of Tragus.

Much of the current bank debt matures in seven to eight years.