On The Record – Peter Taylor

In June, London-based Duke Street Capital hit the headlines over pending job losses at portfolio company Burton's Foods and creditor losses at former portfolio company Focus DIY. Following Duke Street's investment in Burton's in March, UK MP Angela Eagle has been campaigning against the firm's plans for a Burton's biscuit factory in her Wallasey constituency, which may cost 660 jobs. Meanwhile the investment in Focus has been branded an example of lenders and bondholders being at risk in LBOs after sponsors cash out through recapitalisations. Duke Street recapitalised what was then Focus Wickes in 2002 and, having sold the Wickes business to a trade buyer, refinanced Focus once more in 2005 on a stand-alone basis. In January, Focus was put up for sale after it became obvious that the company was no longer able to service the £280 million of debt on its balance sheet. In June, US distressed debt specialist Cerberus bought the company for £1. The new owner will pay back £185 million of bank debt while the holders of £100 million worth of bonds will receive 40p in the pound. PEI caught up with Duke Street's managing partner Peter Taylor, who has been asked to appear before the Treasury Select Committee in the House of Commons in the coming weeks (at press time, a date had not yet been agreed), to quiz him about the recent events.

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