Lewis teams up with Warner deal

Billionaire's son will open chain of themed movie restaurants
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The Independent Online
ENIC, the investment trust backed by Bahamas-based billionaire Joe Lewis, has teamed up with Time Warner, the US media giant, to develop a chain of themed restaurants.

As part of the deal Mr Lewis, who is believed to be Britain's richest man, has distributed his substantial stake in Enic to his family and the group's management team. The main beneficiary will be Mr Lewis' son Charlie, who will control 21 per cent of the group which is currently valued at pounds 300m. Daniel Levy, the 35-year-old Cambridge graduate who is a close family friend of the Mr Lewis, will control 14 per cent of the new group and is sitting on a paper profit of more than pounds 18m.

The partners plan an initial investment of $20m (pounds 12m) to open new restaurants in major cities throughout America and Europe based on Warner's library of films such as Batman and Casablanca, hit TV series like ER and Friends or cartoon favourites like Tom & Jerry and Scooby Doo.

By using constantly changing film sets and lighting, diners will be able to enjoy different entertainment backdrops for every course. The sites will also include bars and retail outlets selling merchandise.

Enic is paying pounds 18m for an 80 per cent stake in Warner Brothers' retail business which sells merchandise and has a flagship store in Regent Street. In turn, Time Warner is paying pounds 10m for a 4.3 per cent stake in Enic. The two groups plan to open a series of new retail sites in the UK.

Enic is also buying a 25 per cent stake in Rangers football club and taking control of a clutch of continental teams, including Vincenza of Italy, AEK Athens and Slavia Prague, for a total consideration of more than pounds 85m.

It is also paying another pounds 6.2m to buy Autonomy, an internet software group which will form the core of a new media division.

The string of deals will allow Enic to convert itself from a investment trust to a conventional quoted group.

Its shares have been suspended pending the completion of the acquisitions but should begin trading again next month.