// HSBC delayed Holland & Barrett’s loan repayment as it sought regulatory assurance that the retailer, which has links to Russian oligarchs, was not hit by sanctions
// The payment was delayed by two days and meant that Holland & Barrett missed its repayment deadline
Holland & Barrett’s loan repayment has been delayed due to concerns from bank HSBC around the health retailer’s links to Russian oligarchs.
The payment has now been paid but was held up this week after HSBC refused to process it until it received assurances that LetterOne, Holland & Barrett’s London-based investment group owner, was not subject to sanctions.
HSBC had confirmation that this was the case from authorities in the UK and Luxembourg, according to the FT, so made the payemnt today.
LetterOne is majority-owned by Russian oligarchs who have been placed under sanctions, including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, however the bank has been assured that the business itself does not fall under sanctions.
LetterOne had made the €415m loan repayment to Holland & Barrett’s creditors, but the delay meant it missed the deadline for payment.
The value of the Holland & Barrett’s loans has fallen sharply since the FT reported the issues earlier this week, leading some distressed debt investors to take stakes in the hope they could try to gain control of the company.
The confusion highlights the complications in working out which entities are hit by the sanctions against Russian firms.
LetterOne said: “Holland & Barrett and LetterOne have been advised that HSBC, having received the payment of [euros] interest from Holland & Barrett on March 29, has made the payment to all lenders on March 31.
“Holland & Barrett is in full compliance with all its obligations to its lenders.”