Carphone Warehouse boss to put embittered property empire on the market

Carphone Warehouse boss to put embittered property empire on the market


It has been reported that the Conservative donor and co-founder of Carphone Warehouse David Ross is set to dismantle his property empire by selling either its principal asset Drake Circus, or the group as a whole.

It is understood that Mr Ross is considering putting either Drake Circus – the £230 million, Plymouth-based shopping centre – or his entire empire, the Kandahar Group, currently valued at £440 million, on the market.

The businessman is being advised on how best to manage the sale of his assets by property agent Jones Lang LaSalle, after Kandahar fell into debt with Lloyds Banking Group. 


According to reports in The Telegraph, Kandahar breached covenants on its £247 million Bank of Scotland facility and as a result Mr Ross is in talks to restructure the group.


It has been said that the entrepreneur, who counts the likes of David Cameron amongst his friends, has already been approached numerous times about takeovers of the group and shopping centre.


Whilst Mr Ross’ shares in TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse have remained strong, thus allowing him to meet interest payments on his property empire’s debt, Kandahar is still very much ‘underwater.’


It has been reported that a North American education pension fund called Olayan, a Saudi investment fund and a group of Singapore investors, are all interested in Kandahar.


However, if a deal involving the complete buyout of the group fails to go ahead, agents Jones Lang La Salle and Cushman & Wakefield will market Drake Circus.


The last few years haven’t been kind to Mr Ross; in December 2008 he was forced to step down from a number of companies, including the Carphone Warehouse, as non-executive director, after it emerged he pledged £200 million of shares to support investments in the commercial property sector.


However, his investments weren’t as successful as planned and in 2008 accounts for Kandahar saw its LTV rise from 82.5 per cent to 134 per cent, resulting in emergency talks between Mr Ross and Lloyds.


However, Kandahar has remained out of administration and Lloyds is said to be confident it will recoup its funding if the group’s assets are sold. 


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