The intrigue surrounding Simon Halabi and his health and fitness-club chain Esporta deepened this weekend as it emerged that the Société Générale bank lent him more than £70m in its £475m acquisition.
The news comes just weeks after SocGen pulled the plug on Esporta’s holding companies, Bell I and Bell II, sending them into administration.
It had previously been thought that Halabi stumped up the estimated £115m equity for the purchase using his own cash and that the rest was funded with £330m of debt from SocGen and a loan note from Duke Street, the private-equity firm that sold the group.
But City sources said SocGen lent Halabi most of the equity capital in the form of an equity bridging loan secured against a separate portfolio of London office buildings owned by the entrepreneur. It is believed Halabi is in talks with SocGen about how the loan will be repaid.