WestLB looks to sell Odeon stake

The embattled German bank, WestLB, is looking to sell its 43% stake in the Odeon cinema chain. WestLB is looking to offload the majority of investments held within its troubled principal finance group. The bank is seeking to refinance a £290m bridging loan for Odeon that would free it up to sell the stake early in the New Year.

Any deal would depend on the bank restructuring the bridging loan, which was arranged by the head of WestLB’s principal finance unit, Robin Saunders.

The consortium, which bought Odeon for £431m earlier this year, also includes the property entrepreneur, Robert Tchenguiz, the private investor, Guy Dellal, and the Entertainment Group’s Nigel and Trevor Green. Tchenguiz and Dellal control a 35% stake in Odeon, while the Greens control the remaining 22%.

Odeon is in talks with several banks as well as WestLB about refinancing the loan, which is due for repayment in March. Once it decides to initiate a formal sales process, WestLB will have to offer its share to existing investors.

Tchenguiz is thought to be interested in taking on WestLB’s stake, but will only do so with the cooperation of the other investors. Odeon, which operates 97 cinemas across the UK, is attractive to investors such as Tchenguiz because it includes around £200m worth of property.

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