May 12, 2021

Tax-haven links to Bannatyne float revealed

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duncanbannatyneBy JAMIE NIMMO From Evening Standard UK

Duncan Bannatyne, the TV star and outspoken critic of tax havens, faced embarrassment today after it emerged he will himself own part of his soon-to-be-floated health clubs empire through a tax haven.

After the £300 million flotation of The Bannatyne Group, part of the business will be owned by a Bannatyne family company in the British Virgin Islands.

The complicated structure will see BVI-based Bannatyne Brand Management Limited (BBML) sell the fitness chain the right to use the Bannatyne brand name in return for shares in the newly floated company.

Bannatyne has previously attacked fellow Dragons’ Den star James Caan for using a vehicle based in the Cayman Islands, another well-known tax haven.

He refused to go into business with Caan in 2010, saying: “I am not feeding the coffers of the Cayman Islands or British Virgin Islands.”

Last year, the 67-year-old Scot claimed BBML was set up because the Bannatyne group needed investment and shareholders “wanted anonymity.”

However, stock market listing documents seen by the Evening Standard show for the first time that the former Dragon owns 20% of the BBML offshore vehicle, with the remaining 80% controlled by members of his family.

Four of his daughters, Jennifer, Eve, Hollie, and Abigail, are also named in the documents as shareholders of The Bannatyne Group.

It is thought BBML will own a small percentage of the listed company.

Over the past three years, The Bannatyne Group, which has about 2800 staff, paid BBML £5.3 million for the rights to the Bannatyne name, but no longer owes fees under the new arrangement.

Last year, it paid £2.25 million.

Bannatyne declined to comment. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing.

Stockbrokers Allenby Capital and Mirabaud Securities are looking for institutional investors for the listing, likely to be next month.

Bannatyne is selling around £75 million of the company, which will be used to refurbish the health clubs’ gym facilities. The entrepreneur will retain around three-quarters of the company and is not looking to boost his personal fortune.

Last year, the group’s revenues rose 3% to £100.9 million, with pre-tax profits reversing a slump in 2014 to leap 138% to £8 million.

The board will be led by Playtech chairman Alan Jackson, who stepped down as The Restaurant Group’s chairman yesterday.

Bannatyne is taking a non-executive seat on the board. Justin Musgrove, who spent 19 years at Center Parcs, is chief executive, and Kenneth Campling took over as finance boss early last year after the exit of Christopher Watson, who was found guilty of taking almost £8 million from the business to pay off gambling debts.

IMAGE: Embarrassment: TV star Duncan Bannatyne Chris Jackson/Getty Images

For more on this story go to: http://www.standard.co.uk/business/exclusive-taxhaven-links-to-bannatyne-float-revealed-a3247391.html

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