Deal speculation swirls as billionaire THG boss revamps home loan

THG: loan rearranger

Matthew Moulding, the billionaire CEO of THG who is fighting to restore investor confidence in the online retailer, appears to have settled a controversial government loan that helped build his personal property empire.

It was revealed last year that Warrington Borough Council lent the e-commerce mogul more than £150million, one of his biggest business loans ever, to finance the construction of properties which will be used by THG. The Cheshire local authority had agreed a month after THG’s IPO in September 2020 to extend to a holding company indirectly controlled by Molding a seven-year, £202m loan facility secured against sites around from the main THG campus site near Manchester Airport.

Molding’s sale and leaseback agreement in the run-up to THG’s float had already come under intense scrutiny from investors. Companies controlled by the CEO became owners of THG sites, including its Omega warehouse in Warrington, as well as two Manchester hotels and a country club, which were leased to the company for £19m a year . The exclusion of the property had a face value of £215m, including £139m of assumed debt, but cost Molding little or nothing initially, as it financed the balance using canceled stock options instead of cash.

Since this week, a significant part of the Warrington loan is no longer valid. A Companies House filing filed Wednesday for MCL Omega Propco, which is owned by Molding Icon 3 Holdco loan vehicle and holds rights to the south side of the Omega site, showed the charge was fully satisfied.

However, no updates were filed for related companies linked to the loan and no indication of which entity may have funded an early settlement. THG declined to comment on the matter. Warrington council officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The end of the loan saga could help Molding shape THG into a shape he and his backers find more comfortable. Advisers to the company have reportedly been investigating a sale of retail divisions or a return to private ownership in recent months, ideas that company spokesmen have dismissed as “pure speculation”. Another theory that has made the rounds more recently involves Molding bolstering the group by moving to a UK high street retailer with a small online presence but a more widely recognized brand.

Credit Suisse: uf wiederluege

Another party at Credit Suisse. Damian Bisseker, a former head of European litigation and a 17-year veteran at the Swiss bank, joined the London office of Wall Street law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel this month.

It is the latest in a string of high-profile departures as Credit Suisse seeks to recover from the Archegos Capital and Greensill scandals. Chief risk officer Lara Warner exited in April, as did investment banking chief Brian Chin. In June, the bank bid farewell to Greg Weinberger, global head of mergers and acquisitions, and a deal team led by financial services group boss Alejandro Przygoda. The head of the asset management division Eric Varvel followed in December. Basil Eggenschwyler, head of credit trading and sector strategy for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, resigned last week.

Bisseker had been in charge of the Emea litigation and investigations group since 2010. A regular on the speaking circuit, he spoke candidly in 2017 about the struggle to manage interdepartmental conflicts of interest – comments made more prescient by Greensill’s collapse in the administration and reports that Credit Suisse management had failed to act on warnings from its own staff.

Potential missteps on Greensill have been seized by investors suing Credit Suisse for damages related to Mozambique’s “tuna bonds” fraud. A bondholder told City Insider that the tainted loans built and sold by Credit Suisse Wealth Management must have come from similar failures because they could never have passed a broader organizational sniff test. Credit Suisse rejected that argument, saying in an updated High Court filing last month that it could not be held liable as an organization for individual bankers taking bribes.

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