Property management company Peverel in administration

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The Independent Online

Debt-laden property management company Peverel has gone into administration in a further blow to the empire of the billionaire Tchenguiz brothers.

The holding companies behind Peverel - the UK's largest property management firm owned by Vincent Tchenguiz - went bust after reportedly failing to meet demands to repay debts of around £125 million.

Administrators Zolfo Cooper said the operating companies, which employ around 4,000 staff and look after around 190,000 properties and retirement homes, were unaffected by the collapse of the holding companies and would continue to trade as normal.

Zolfo will run the businesses in the hope of securing a sale.

Mr Tchenguiz and his brother Robert were among a number arrested last week as part of a fraud investigation into the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Zolfo Cooper stressed they had no plans for staff redundancies within the operating companies.

It added that services for residents, tenants, customers and landlords will continue to be provided as normal and they should use their usual points of contact.

Simon Appell, partner of Zolfo Cooper, said: "Whilst the business itself was profitable at an operating level, the level of debt in the holding companies was unsustainable.

"The administrations of the holding companies were therefore unavoidable. However, the operating companies are unaffected and will continue to trade as normal."

He added the administrators were "confident a successful outcome will be achieved".

Today's news comes less than a week after the Tchenguiz brothers were arrested alongside five others in the UK in dawn raids across London.

The embattled pair were released the same day and have vowed to clear themselves of "any allegation of wrong-doing".

Peverel was in talks with its lender Bank of America over the company's debts for several months before the administration, which was made at the request of Peverel's board of directors.

It is understood they were in negotiations over a restructuring that would have seen its debts written off in return for equity.

Peverel is part of Mr Tchenguiz's wider property business that owns the freehold of and manages around 500,000 properties.

The duo also have interests directly in property ownership and leisure investments, although their portfolio has been decimated by the credit crunch and financial crisis.

Peverel - once owned by housebuilder McCarthy & Stone - has a number of subsidiaries and managing agents, including Solitaire Property Management and Pembertons Residential.

It also owns CarelineUK, which provides emergency alarms in retirement homes.