Walker offers to pay less than 1m pounds

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GEORGE WALKER, the deposed founder chairman of Brent Walker, is offering to repay less than pounds 1m to banks owed more than pounds 90m. He proposed the payment in the courts yesterday when TSB petitioned for personal bankruptcy.

Mr Walker owes much of the money after giving personal guarantees to banks that subscribed to a pounds 103m convertible bond issue at the time of Brent Walker's November 1990 refinancing. TSB is owed more than pounds 9m and Hill Samuel, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse are all said to be creditors. Svenska Bank and Hambros Bank also subscribed to the bond issue, although it is unclear whether they are involved.

Mr Walker's solicitor, Michael Colman of Harkavys, said the hearing was adjourned for 14 days after he countered the petition for bankruptcy with an application for an interim order under a proposed individual voluntary arrangement with creditors.

Mr Colman said: 'The court appointed Raymond Hocking, a partner in Stoy Hayward, as a nominee so that he could investigate the proposal. He will make a report at the hearing in 14 days. At that time George is hopeful that the report of the nominee is in favour of the matter going a step further.' But if that happens, the creditors will be able to vote on the proposals. They are said to be unlikely to approve them.

Earlier this summer, TSB repossessed the Walkers' Pall Mall flat, leaving them with houses in Essex and the south of France.

Mr Walker was ousted from his post at Brent Walker more than a year ago after a coup by the banks. He and his wife, Jean, fought to regain control from their positions as non-executive directors until they resigned before a shareholders' meeting last December.

Mr and Mrs Walker are still fighting the company over alleged unfair dismissal and loss of office.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the betting, pubs and property company over pounds 12.5m that went missing in 1989. The company expects that investigation to finish within a few months.

The SFO has interviewed Mr Walker twice. He has said it wished to question him on accounting matters.