U.S. Markets closed

Revealed: How Jamie Oliver walked away from deal to save restaurants over £13m loan

Oliver Gill
Jamie Oliver - Getty Images Europe

Jamie Oliver spurned a multimillion-pound deal to rescue his restaurant empire after being asked to write off his loans to it, The Telegraph can reveal.

The celebrity chef, whose business collapsed on Tuesday , rejected an offer from a specialist turnaround fund.

The parent company elected to put his eponymous UK network of eateries, as well as steakhouse Barbecoa and Fifteen London into administration instead, leading to the loss of 1,000 jobs and putting a further 300 at risk.

Mr Oliver said he was “devastated” and “deeply saddened” at the failure.

Under the proposal from German investment firm Aurelius, Mr Oliver would have had to write off around £13m of loans. He was not asked to inject more cash, sources said.

It is understood that HSBC was prepared to write off almost all its loans, totalling £37m, with Aurelius pumping in millions of pounds to turn around the company’s fortunes.

Critically, he would also have had to commit himself to the Jamie Oliver brand going forwards.

“It would have been a [new] partnership, not a sale,” said one insider.

A separate source said top executives at Jamie Oliver Group , including Paul Hunt, Mr Oliver’s brother-in-law and the chief executive, believed the rescue deal was not a sufficient guarantee of the long-term future of the chains. It could have led to the restaurants failing later this year, providing a distraction to the chef’s other ventures, such as cookery books and TV programmes, the person said.

Mr Oliver’s chains hired Alix Partners and BDO earlier this year in a bid to attract new capital. Other parties reportedly circling the group included buy-out giant Carlyle and Endless.

A spokesman from the Jamie Oliver Group declined to comment. HSBC and Aurelius declined to comment.