Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Boycott Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s

Health warning : There appears to be a degree of inconsistency in the information I have been able to find out about both Prestbury Group and Nick Leslau. For instance, some reports describe Nick Leslau as a rags-to-riches success story, and other sources say he attended a prep school and then the same private boarding school that gave us Richard Dimbleby and Denis Thatcher.

Equally whilst Prestbury are a property company and own interests in The Trocadero, a number of properties on Oxford Street, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s, I cannot establish whether they own a 100% interest in those properties and I cannot establish a portfolio of their interests.

In this light you may wonder why I'm posting about Prestbury. The answer to that is that this blog will, when complete, have a page containing the relevant details concerning the business interests of each of the signatories to the Offending Letter and these will all be subject to the possibility of updates as and when information comes to light or when it changes.

Prestbury Group Plc is a property investment company that owns the likes of The Trocadero, a number of properties on Oxford Street, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

In 1997 Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray started their own small property company Maybeat Limited, which they reversed into one of Michael Edelson's Alternative Investment Market listed shell companies called Prestbury Group plc. This company was floated on the alternative investment market with the two property entrepreneurs delivering a 150% increase in net asset value in just two years. While the collapse of the property market towards the end of the 1990s impacted heavily upon the value of Prestbury Group, and other property companies, this did not stop the two property giants from taking the business private nearly 10 years ago.

A company by the name of Prestbury Investment Holdings was set up to acquire the old Prestbury Group with an array of property giants happy to become involved, including the likes of Sir Tom Hunter. Leslau is currently chairman and chief executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings which now has a property portfolio valued at £2.2 billion – owning the likes of Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

Max Property

In 2009 Nick Leslau launched Max Property onto the alternative investment market with the backing of the American Och-Ziff hedge fund. It is rumoured the US investor ploughed £25 million into the operation, a figure which will be matched by the company’s management. The directors list is very impressive and includes Aubrey Adams, a former chief executive of Savills the estate agents and Mike Brown the former chief executive of property group Helical Bar.

Prestbury Investment Holdings stands to receive fees of around £18.75 million over the next seven and a half years in a complex management arrangement which will see a minimum fee of £625,000 a quarter received by Nick Leslau’s company.

Max Property appears to be registered in Jersey and I'm not sure of its full relationship with Prestbury, or its tax status. This is taken from Max Property's website:-

The company’s strategy is to exploit the current cyclical weakness in the UK real estate market through opportunistic investment and active management with a view to realising cash returns for shareholders over an investment cycle of approximately seven and half years from listing on 27 May 2009.

The company will invest in assets over a five-year period. After the end of those five years it will not seek new acquisitions and it will manage and realise its assets with a view to making a final return to shareholders over an investment cycle which, depending on prevailing market conditions, is anticipated to be seven and a half years from May 2009.

Which sounds like carpetbagging to me.

Nick LeslauNick Leslau is a Chartered Surveyor who filled the role of Chief Executive of Burford Holdings plc for approximately ten years until his resignation from the board of Burford in 1997. He became non-executive Chairman of Prestbury Group Plc in December 1997 and was appointed Group Chairman and Chief Executive of Prestbury Group Plc on 1 January 1998. Nick has been Chairman and Chief Executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings Limited since it commenced business in October 2000. Nick is the Chairman of Prestbury Investments LLP. He has sat on many quoted and unquoted company boards and is a Member of the Bank of England Property Forum.

Nick Leslau lives in a £30 million property he bought in Mayfair, London. He owns a Mediterranean based yacht. As a lover of sport, Leslau owns one of W.G. Grace's cricket bats, and is a part owner of Saracens F.C. Rugby Union club. Nick Leslau is estimated to have a personal fortune in the region of £200 million.

Thanks to his friend Tom Hunter, Leslau became interested in solving the world's problems: in 2006 they had a working holiday in Ayacucho, Peru; in 2007 to Malawi to help build an orphanage. In early 2008, Leslau took part in the Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire, giving away £400,000 in a ten day visit to Possil, Glasgow.

So he does have a good side.

On 18th October, Nick Leslau signed an open letter calling on the Chancellor to continue the coalition government's plans to reduce the public finance deficit in one term, plans which included swingeing cuts on the poorest members of society and which risk pushing this country into a double-dip recession, the likes of which has not been seen since the last time the tories took power and tanked the economy in the early 80's.

For this reason Nick Leslau is considered to be a fully signed up member of the Big Business Society and we urge people to boycott Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussaud’s.

Post script added 4th November 2011

Property Weekly reported on 10th June that Prestbury were the owners and landlord's of 21 nursing homes operated by the now failed company, Southern Cross. As you may remember Southern Cross went bust threatening the care of thousands old elderly people. I don't know if was the rent they had to pay to Nick Leslau's Prestbury Group that forced them into liquidation but it couldn't have helped.

Nick didn't worry about the victims of the Southern Cross scandal for long though as the following month he embarked on the grandest undertaking of his career, he bought the historic St Katharine Docks near the Tower of London for £156m.


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