in brief

• US investment firm Cerberus Capital Management has bought the operating subsidiaries of UK retail IT specialist Torex Retail for £204.4m (€302.8m) as its PLC holding company enters administration. The consideration is insufficient to repay the publicly listed holding company’s secured bank loans. Neither unsecured creditors nor shareholders are expected to receive any proceeds from the administration. The deal comes as the Serious Fraud Office continues to investigate allegations of fraud, money laundering and insider trading at Torex. Steve Marshall, chairman of Torex Retail’s holding company, said: “The sale of the business was the only viable option available to the board and it was achieved despite breathtaking corporate governance and financial issues at PLC level, the scale and extent of which neither I nor my board colleagues have seen in corporate life. “Against this background, huge efforts have been made to extract as much value as possible from this uniquely challenging situation. This will be of little comfort to Torex Retail’s shareholders, or to the holding company’s unsecured creditors, to whom no value will accrue given the numerous issues bearing down on the company.” KPMG has been appointed as administrator to Torex Retail PLC.

3i has sold tool hire business HSS to Aurigo Management, an investment fund managed by Archie Norman, and hedge fund Och-Ziff. Thomson Merger News reported last Friday that 3i was expected to announce a deal with Och Ziff this week.3i has generated a more than fourfold multiple in the £310m (US$611m) sale, after backing a £145m management buy-in from Davis Service Group in December 2003. Under 3i’s ownership, HSS has shifted from a pure ‘hire’ service to a customer-focused facilities management business. 3i said that HSS has EBITDA of £40m for the year ended 31 December 2006, approximately 30% higher than when 3i first invested. Archie Norman, famed for turning around supermarket chain Asda before selling the business to Walmart, launched distressed-focused fund Aurigo in June 2006 with reported backing from Lord Rothschild.

• Irish real estate investment group Quinlan Private has bought the Jurys Inns hotel chain for €1.165bn. The firm is believed to have beaten competition from rival bidders including private equity firm Permira, investment group Lydian Capital and leisure group Whitbread. The chain was sold by Crownway Investments, another Irish investment firm that took the Jurys Doyle Hotel Group private in 2005. The Jurys Inns business is in 20 city centre locations across the UK and Ireland. Crownway will keep the group’s luxury hotels business. Past high-profile transactions for Quinlan include buying The Savoy Group (now the Maybourne Hotel Group) in 2004 and acquiring The Marriott Group for £1.1bn (US$2.1bn) in April 2007.