Receivers in at Finelist after 'irregularities' are found

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Finelist, the car parts distributor, last night went into administrative receivership after the discovery of financial irregularities, six months after it was taken private by a French led consortium in a £304m buyout. Ernst & Young, the administrative receivers, said they hoped to sell it as a going concern.

Finelist, the car parts distributor, last night went into administrative receivership after the discovery of financial irregularities, six months after it was taken private by a French led consortium in a £304m buyout. Ernst & Young, the administrative receivers, said they hoped to sell it as a going concern.

Alan Bloom, an Ernst & Young corporate restructuring partner, said: "We have already received a number of expressions of interest for the business, which we are trading as a going concern. We are very confident of finding a buyer for Finelist and are looking at the most effective way of packaging it for sale." Finelist has a turnover of £500m and employs 5,500 people in 600 locations in the UK.

Mr Bloom was not available to explain the difficulty. However, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, said: "The French parent applied for receivers to be appointed at Finelist because financial irregularities have been discovered." It is understood that Goldman Sachs and BNP, the French bank, who were among backers of the buyout, were involved in the decision to seek administrative receivership. It is thought the decision was taken in Paris late on Thursday night.

Finelist was the subject of a buyout by Europe Auto Distributors, a private equity vehicle put together by Walter Butler, a Paris-based venture capitalist, with the backing of AXA Private Equity, BC European Capital Funds and his own funds. The consortium was advised by Goldman Sachs. Mr Butler was yesterday away on business in Portugal and not contactable.

As part of the deal Finelist was to be merged with Autodistribution, a French car parts supplier. The consortium agreed to pay £159m cash and the rest in assumed debt. Sources stressed last night that the French parent was not affected by the move and was trading profitably.

The buyout was at a substantial premium to the share price at the time the bid was announced. Christopher Swan, the Finelist chairman, had hailed the deal back in February when the bid was originally announced as creating a "powerful new force in the industry".

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