The Wolseley co-founder Jeremy King LOSES control of his restaurant empire Corbin & King after Thai-based hotel giant won £60m auction for the group
- Minor International taken control of renowned restaurant group Corbin & King
- The group are behind some of London’s top restaurants including The Wolseley
- They also run The Delaunay in London’s Covent Garden and Brasserie Zedel
- Restaurant group set up by Jeremy King and his business partner Chris Corbin
- But the founders are said to have fallen out with Minor over post-pandemic plans
A Thai hotel firm has won a bitter battle for control of the renowned restaurant group behind fine-dining favourites The Wolseley and The Delaunay in London.
Minor International have secured control of Corbin & King (C&K) with a multi-million bid, beating an offer from Jeremy King – who co-founded the group with business partner Chris Corbin.
Minor was already a majority shareholder. But following a length saga, which saw the company plunged into administration, and after a hotly contested auction on Friday, the Thai firm will now take control.
It is understood Minor paid more than £60million as part of the deal sealed on Friday morning at the auction, which was held by the administrators.
The founders, Mr King, 67, and Mr Corbin, 68, had sold a controlling stake in the company four years ago.
But they had since fallen out with the Thai firm over Corbin & King’s plans following the pandemic.
A Thai hotel firm has won a bitter battle for control of a renowned restaurant group behind fine-dining favourites The Wolseley (pictured) and The Delaunay in London
Minor International is believed to have secured control of Corbin & King with a multi-million bid, beating an offer from Jeremy King – who co-founded the group with Chris Corbin. The group also own The Wolseley in Piccadilly
Minor International is believed to have secured control of Corbin & King with a multi-million bid, beating an offer from Jeremy King – who co-founded the group with Chris Corbin
In January, the hotel giant forced Corbin & King, which also owns Brasserie Zedel and other restaurants, into administration.
The company founders described the move at the time as a ‘power play’ and claimed there was ‘absolutely no need’ for it to enter insolvency.
On Friday morning, Mr King emailed customers to confirm he lost out in the auction process.
‘We took part in the auction to try and buy the business and assets of Corbin & King that we didn’t already own, including of course all the restaurants,’ he wrote.
‘Regrettably, that attempt failed and Minor Hotel Group was the successful bidder, buying the entire business.’
Mr King said he therefore no longer has a stake in the company but remains as an employee for the time being. However he is now expected to step down from Corbin & King.
Dillip Rajakarier, group chief executive of Minor International, said: ‘We are delighted that our offer was accepted and we can now look forward to building on the existing strong foundations to drive growth in the UK and internationally.’
A spokesperson said: ‘We wish them success in their future endeavours and have no doubt that the outstanding Corbin & King team will build upon their legacy, taking it to new heights as we invest significantly in the company’s and our employees’ future growth.’
In January, the hotel giant forced Corbin & King, which also owns Brasserie Zedel and other restaurants, into administration. Pictured: Waiters at The Delauney in London
Corbin and King met in the 1970s when they worked at the famous Langan’s Brasserie and Joe Allen’s respectively. Pictured: An interior view of the The Wolseley restaurant in London
Minor’s spokesperson said the firm had ‘the utmost respect for what they have achieved in the London restaurant business (and indeed) their continued involvement in the business was a critical factor in deciding to make our original investment’.
‘However, as time passed it became clear that Mr King had significantly different views on the appropriate strategy for the business,’ the spokesperson said.
Corbin and King met in the 1970s when they worked at the famous Langan’s Brasserie and Joe Allen’s respectively.
They bought Le Caprice and turned it into a star-studded hangout where Princess Diana was a regular.
They then opened showbusiness haunt The Ivy, before working their magic on fish restaurant J Sheekey.
Their restaurants became known for the three ‘C’s: cuisine, celebrity and chic.
They opened London’s first successful grand cafe — The Wolseley — in a grade II-listed vintage car showroom-turned-bank in 2003.
The establishment has since become a popular haunt with celebrities, including Kate Moss, Emma Watson and the Beckhams, who are said to be regulars while Katy Perry, Madonna and Jake Gyllenhaal reportedly like to visit when they are in town.
Late artist Lucian Freud was a regular at the restaurant, and he even persuaded King to sit for a portrait.
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