During the height of the recession just after Lehman Brothers failed, Bespoke Bridging Finance (www.bespokebridging.com) was approached by a long standing introducer with an enquiry for a closed bridge. The Client had been turned down by all other lenders be they ‘bridgers’ or mainstream.
The Client, a limited company, had exchanged on a substantial piece of land, which had lapsed planning permission for a 5 star hotel and an operational loss-making golf course. The Client’s four directors had given P.G.’s to the Vendor besides a first charge over the property. The contract of sale contained onerous penalty clauses for late or non-completion. In addition the Client had undertaken to settle a second charge on the property owed to the vendor’s Bank.
One of the big 4 banks who had agreed to fund the completion money and development costs withdrew their offer at the last minute. The client had pre-sold rooms in the hotel to investors and their solicitors were holding significant deposits. The Client had found a funder who had been paid an application fee and produced terms subject to a further fee of £50K, which had to be paid within 5 days. The need for the bridge was because the loan would take 3 months to complete.
Lee Selbo MD of BBF commented, “Whenever I hear that someone has a closed bridge of this type I am immediately sceptical. I have been in this business for many years and only lent on ‘closed bridges’ where a major firm of solicitors had given their irrevocable undertaking for repayment. The ‘offer letter’ we had sight of made us even more sceptical as it came from a company that had not performed in the past. Indeed that company was later on wound up and their directors and solicitor imprisoned.
We gave the Client a reality check. They called their solicitors who agreed with BBF’s assessment and who advised them that they should not part with any further funds as they too believed it was a scam.
Not surprisingly the directors were distraught. The Introducer asked if BBF’s consultancy division would take on the case and see if anything could be done. BBF warned that it may be a case of spending good money after bad as on the surface there was very little to work with. The Client said that as BBF had just saved them throwing away a further substantial advance fee they would rather pay BBF to investigate and see if there was anything they could come up with”.
Lee Selbo and his team spent a week going through every aspect of the business and all shareholder, purchase, planning, funding, sales and associated agreements relating to the business. From their findings BBF devised a comprehensive structure and strategy agreeable to the Client. BBF then negotiated with the vendor, banks, unsecured creditors and the shareholders themselves in order to implement their structure.
All parties agreed that if Bespoke could execute their proposals they would agree to them. The next challenge was finding a funder as the loan was too large for Bespoke’s book. Funders had virtually stopped lending on anything, even Belgravia residential – this property was in the North of England!
BBF approached a new syndicating partner whose initial reaction was to run a mile! However, after explaining in detail why the restructured loan was so de-risked they agreed to proceed subject to their own due diligence. The loan did proceed as and in addition Bespoke and its partner took a small equity slice of the company in order to make the deal work.
Within a month of first meeting the client the loan was in place and drawn down. BBF were appointed as advisers to the Board and brought significant added value to the overall development. The reason this is current news is that as a direct result of BBF’s strategy and structure all loans were repaid, planning permission obtained and construction finance found. The client was then in a strong position and purchased back BBF and their partners’ equity on extended terms. That buy back has just recently completed.
The managing director of the client company commented, “We had approached numerous funding sources but the only one who succeeded was Lee Selbo and his team at Bespoke Bridging Finance. Although the deal appeared expensive at the time it turned out remarkably well for all concerned. From nearly losing everything Lee Selbo and his team saved the day and we continue to work with them on other ventures”.
Bespoke thrives on getting difficult loans funded. Each case is unique and requires a totally focused Bespoke solution.