Trio in bid to save Wembley

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The Independent Online
Damian Aspinall, son of John Aspinall, the Kent zoo-owner, has teamed up with two City entrepreneurs, Luke Johnson and Hugh Osmond, to propose a rescue bid for Wembley, the heavily indebted company that owns Wembley stadium, writes David Hellier.

Mr Aspinall is on the board of Caverdale Group, a motor dealer and distributor group, which is capitalised at around £25m. He is believed to have access to around £20m. "I met with Wembley a number of times before Christmas," he said, "and I have now decided to go in with Luke Johnson and Hugh Osmond. I have access to private funding, and they have access to institutional funds.''

Wembley, which has debts of around £140m, is seeking a refinancing. The banks are expected to be supportive of a debt-for-equity swap, which might result in them having up to 20 per cent of the equity in the company. But they also want some of their debts paid off.

Sir Brian Wolfson, Wembley's chairman, has tried to raise money in the City, but he appears so far to have failed to find enough backing. His advisers at Charterhouse said they would consider any proposal benefiting the company and its shareholders. "We

have a totally open mind," said Paul Bains of Charterhouse.

Other possible rescuers for Wembley include the American buyout fund Apollo, Mirror Group and Harvey Goldsmith.

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