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Entrepreneur moves in for Four Star slice

LOW-profile Irish entrepreneur Michael Holland was yesterday unveiled as the prospective buyer of Four Star Pizza, after he made an offer to buy the embattled fast food company out of examinership.

The deal, which was first revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, will save more than 400 jobs at Four Star if it's approved by the courts next week.

A court was yesterday given details of the "scheme of arrangements" proposed by Mr Holland's Gonville Ltd to rescue Four Star from examinership.

The deal will see Gonville become Four Star's sole owner, with the pizza chain's previous backers Anthuan Xavier and Jason Sheehy having no involvement.

Trade creditors are believed to have accepted significant write-offs to enable Four Star's 37 outlets to continue trading, while landlords' agreements to cut rent was a "key element" to the deal.

Four Star's main lender, National Irish Bank, is also understood to have taken a hit on its €4.9m debt.

Representatives for Mr Holland confirmed the proposals yesterday and said Gonville would "announce further details on its plans and investment for Four Star" if the deal was approved by the court.

The court is due to make its recommendation next Tuesday, but examinership deals approved by creditors are nearly always endorsed.

Four Star had been planning to add six new outlets in 2010 before the expansion was curtailed by the credit crunch.

Mr Holland is also taking on the franchise rights for Four Star in the UK and may seek to use these. Four Star employs 35 people at head office level, while about 400 more work in franchised pizza outlets.

Irish Independent