Bunhill: The last supper?

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ON MONDAY, the High Court could end the reign of Britain's oldest company boss, Isadore Kerman - variously believed to be 87 or 89. Kerman, a London solicitor, originally came to prominence as legal adviser to the late Jack Cotten, the legendary post-war property developer. With his two sons, Anthony and Nicky, Kerman controlled Bristol-Scotts, a group formed a mere three years ago when Bristol Stadium bought Scott's Restaurants from the Kerman family, amid accusations that the restaurants had been overvalued. Since then, the five trendy West End eateries involved - Scott's, Sheekey's, Drones and two branches of Overtons - have been losing around pounds 1m a year on turnover of less than pounds 5m.

In theory, more than 50 per cent of the shares are held by three hostile investors: Sir Ian Rankin; Nicholas Berry; and Colin Forsyth. They gained control when Berry bought 800,000 shares, more than 10 per cent of the equity, from Claude Hug, a Swiss merchant banker. He had acquired them from Nicky Kerman, who, allegedly, has been a big loser at Lloyd's.

But the Kermans are going down fighting, refusing to register the transfer to Berry and claiming they had an option to buy back Hug's shares, granted because he requested a three- month delay to pay for them. But since he paid up in time, the option may not be valid. And tomorrow a judge will decide whether Berry can vote his shares. In the meantime, Hug has closed his office and was last heard of headed in the general direction of Russia.

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