Tchenguiz trumps Blackstone again

Robert Tchenguiz has raised the stakes again in his increasingly fierce battle with Blackstone for tapas chain La Tasca, upping his original bid and buying a 20 percent stake in the business.

Property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz has looked to land a knockout blow in his tussle with US buyout firm Blackstone for UK tapas chain La Tasca, buying a 20 percent stake in the business and increasing his bid above £100 million (€148 million; $198 million).

Tchenguiz’s investment vehicle R20, in conjunction with Icelandic bank Kaupthing, this morning bought a 20.8 percent stake in La Tasca for £20.4 million, equivalent to 200 pence per share. He has also increased his bid for the remaining shares to the same price, valuing the business at £104 million.

This is the second time Tchenguiz has trumped Blackstone’s bid for La Tasca. Last week he submitted a 190 pence per share offer, beating Blackstone’s initial 185 pence per share bid, but the buyout firm returned with a 192p per share offer a few days later. Tchenguiz’s latest offer is a 4 percent premium on this price, and a 6 percent increase on his original bid.

Tchenguiz did not reveal who sold him the shares, but Penta Capital, the previous owner of the company, is thought to be the only shareholder with a suitably large holding. Penta, which retained a 23 percent stake in the company after floating it on the stock exchange in February 2005, had agreed to sell its shares to Blackstone unless they were offered a bid of more than 195 pence per share.

Tchenguiz wants to merge La Tasca, which also operates the La Vina and Sam & Maxie’s chains, with his Laurel Pub Company.

The entrepreneur could also play a key role in the fate of Sainsbury’s, after acquiring a 4.6 percent stake in the UK supermarket chain.

Penta could not be reached for comment.