Entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz forced to sell assets to pay Kaupthing creditors

The Iranian-born businessman is also fighting to stay in his £50m Kensington mansion

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The Independent Online

Flamboyant entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz has had part of his business empire sliced off by receivers seeking to recoup funds for creditors of Kaupthing, the failed Icelandic bank.

The Iranian-born businessman is also fighting to stay in his £50m Kensington mansion next to the Royal Albert Hall, which is on a list of assets for seizure.

Among the assets that Mr Tchenguiz, 54, has already been forced to sell is a two per cent stake in House of Fraser, which was snapped up by Nanjing Cenbest, the Chinese group that bought the department store last week. A giant BT national distribution warehouse in Leicestershire called Magna Park has been sold to Aberdeen Asset Management for £45.4m following a ruling by the Royal Court of Guernsey in December that assets could be seized by receivers as part of the joint liquidators’ attempts to recoup funds for creditors of Kaupthing. The Icelandic bank lent £1.6bn to Mr Tchenguiz before it collapsed after the financial crisis.

The stake in House of Fraser and Magna Park were held in companies controlled by the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust (TDT), which Mr Tchenguiz uses to administer his assets. The 432,000 sq ft Magna Park property has been placed under control of receivers who appointed commercial agency DTZ to find a buyer. A senior director from DTZ said there had been “significant investor demand” for the warehouse.

Mr Tchenguiz, who once dated the lingerie model Caprice Bourret, also faces losing interests in the Farnborough headquarters of BAE Systems, the country’s biggest defence contractor, and his Mayfair office, Leconfield House — the former headquarters of MI5 —where his investment company is based. All the assets under threat are held by four companies registered in the British Virgin Islands but held within TDT.

The joint liquidators said in a statement to The Times: “The Magna Park and House of Fraser sales are an important step forward in our efforts to realise assets held by the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust. Combined, they will deliver an estimated £8.7m to help repay creditors. We will continue in our efforts to recover assets to settle the £183m debt plus interest owed by the Tchenguiz Discretionary Trust.”

Mr Tchenguiz said in a statement: “I was satisfied with the price realised for Magna Park and, in light of the fact that House of Fraser is a private company, the two per cent stake is not an asset that the trust would have wished to continue to hold. The distribution of any funds realised through disposal of the assets is subject to an appeal in the Guernsey courts.”

Mr Tchenguiz recently settled a significant damages claim against the Serious Fraud Office after its botched three-year investigation into him and his brother Vincent. They are also preparing to sue Grant Thornton for its involvement in the disastrous investigation that resulted in damages and an apology for the brothers.