BusinessBusiness RecoveryRegus’s insolvency strategy enrages property trade body

Regus's insolvency strategy enrages property trade body

British Property Federation calls for insolvency rules to be tightened

One of the largest office providers, Regus, has angered landlords by using an
insolvency process to negotiate reductions in rent on some of its properties.

Regus, the global company, has given some of the UK’s largest landlords an
ultimatum to cut the rent of its unprofitable offices by having rent free
periods and discounts in future, the
Financial
Times
reported.

The British Property Federation (BPF) has condemned the move as it claims
Regus is using the law to allow parts of the business to be packaged into a
company which can claim to be insolvent even if the parent company is
profitable.

A statement from the BPF said: “It is unclear why the leases would not revert
to the profitable parent company in the event of any vehicles set up to absorb
leases going into administration.”

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, added: “This appears to be a cynical
move by a highly regarded company, and is the first time a part of the property
industry has used such tools against the rest. Landlords are caught between rock
and a hard place when it comes to bailing out occupiers at the expense of their
shareholders or facing the prospect of empty space and the costs that come with
it.

“We need to see the insolvency rules tightened up to stop this kind of abuse
and landlords need to think about asking for some kind of clawback if they make
concessions to enable them to obtain some benefit from the upturn when occupiers
they bail out come back,” she added.

Although Regus declined to comment on the potential use of insolvency
procedures in its business, a spokesman confirmed it planned to “regear” a small
number of its portfolio which consists of more than 135 properties.

He explained a “regear” meant a negotiation to reduce rent and extend the
leases.

A statement by Regus added: “The UK is the toughest business environment of
our geographies. Like many other companies with operations in the UK we are
seeking to regear a small number of leases.”

“However, we remain fully committed to our operations in the UK. We will
continue to grow our leadership position in the UK and are contracted to open
six centres in the next two months.”

Further reading:

Regus
uses insolvency tools to cut rents

CVA
approved for Blacks Leisure

JJB
Sports rescue plan could help other struggling retailers

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