Carlyle and Abu Dhabi’s IMI agree new funding for Barclay family

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Private equity group Carlyle and Abu Dhabi investment group IMI have agreed a fresh debt funding package for the Barclay family’s Very Group, the Liverpool-based retail and financial services group. 

The Barclay family, which lost ownership of the Telegraph Media group last year after lender Lloyds Banking Group took control of the distressed debt, said on Tuesday that Carlyle would provide £85mn of a new £125mn funding package.

The remainder will be provided by IMI, which also backed the takeover of the Telegraph by its affiliated US fund, RedBird IMI, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Carlyle and IMI will each take a seat on the Very Group board. Dirk Van den Berghe has stepped down as non-executive chair of the group, the company said, with a search started for a replacement. 

Aidan Barclay — the son of Sir David Barclay, who with his brother Sir Frederick created the Very Group from the former Littlewoods and Shop Direct businesses — will assume the role of non-executive chair until an appointment has been made.

Aidan Barclay said: “Carlyle and IMI provide the support of two long-term, experienced institutional sponsors that understand our business extremely well.”

The Very Group has a complicated financing structure, including more than £1.5bn in securitised loans and bonds of £575mn in different parts of the operating company structure. 

Last week, the FT revealed that various companies in the group had been pledged as collateral to the new debt provided by IMI. These companies are also pledged as security to previous debts provided by Carlyle, which is owed more than £300mn after helping to repay outstanding commitments of £280mn to Greensill Capital, the supply chain financing group.

The FT revealed last year that Lloyds held a guarantee in the holding companies controlling Very Group that was linked to the distressed debt behind the Telegraph newspaper group, which was then also owned by the Barclay family. 

This led to a complicated deal where IMI and RedBird IMI paid off the £1.1bn owed by the family to Lloyds in return for control of the Telegraph. IMI was also left with a £600mn debt behind the Very Group and other family assets.

Rani R. Raad, chief executive of IMI, said they would work closely with the family “as they deliver against their strategic objectives and growth ambitions”.