Corbin & King combat ‘power-play’ by billionaire investor

Corbin & King, owners of nine London restaurants including the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel, were forced into administration this week when its majority shareholder, Thai-based hospitality investment fund Minor International, claimed that it was “unable to meet its financial obligations”.

Jeremy King (right in picture) condemned the move as a “power play” for control of C&K, and vowed to buy the company out of administration. He said the group was “trading extremely well” following lockdown and there was “absolutely no need to go into administration” – and assured diners that it was business as usual in the restaurants.

Minor International, headed by US-born billionaire William Heinecke, bought a 74% stake in C&K for £58million in 2017. Differences over C&K’s direction have hampered its expansion plans in recent months, delaying the opening of Manzi’s fish restaurant in Soho and casting doubt on a longer-term project to launch the Wolseley brand in major cities around the world.

US-based Knighthead Capital, best known for rescuing car rental firm Hertz from administration, emerged as a potential source of refinancing, reportedly tabling a £38million offer that would cover C&K’s direct loans and loan guarantees from Minor International.

C&K has been in the High Court on a second front this week in an attempt to force its insurer, Axa, to honour business interruption policies covering losses resulting from the Covid lockdowns, in what is seen as a test case for the hospitality industry. The embattled company has also been at loggerheads with its landlord over £1million rent debt built up during lockdown for the Piccadilly premises of the Wolseley.

Jeremy King and his business partner Chris Corbin made their names together by establishing the Ivy – now owned by Richard Caring – as the ultimate celebrity restaurant of the 1990s. They have been called “the Rolls and Royce of London gastronomy” for their ability to create glamorous and luxurious restaurants.

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