Caffè Nero will press ahead with its company voluntary arrangement after rejecting a last-minute takeover bid from petrol forecourt and fast food operator EG Group.

EG owners Mohsin and Zuber Issa wrote to Caffè Nero over the weekend to propose buying it from founder and controlling shareholder Gerry Ford, just days before landlords of the 650-strong struggling coffee chain were due to vote on its CVA proposal.

In a statement rejecting the offer, the company said it was EG Group’s “clear intention is to disrupt the CVA process currently underway as a precursor to opportunistically acquiring the company at a later date.”

Under the proposed takeover, landlords would have been paid in full for the rent arrears built up during the pandemic, compared to 30p in the pound under the CVA, but Nero has said they do not believe the “highly uncertain approach” has the potential to receive a better result for creditors than the CVA, or that it is in the longer term interests of the group.

“The group’s current CVA proposal to its creditors has been structured to put the group on a sustainable footing for the medium to long term, directly aligning the company’s interests with those of its key stakeholders and landlords in particular,” the group said. “Ultimately, it will provide the company with the flexibility required for it to withstand the devastating impact of the current pandemic, and any further subsequent lockdowns, and emerge strongly to regain previous trading momentum once restrictions are lifted.

“The directors have carefully considered this development and their duties, and in particular the risk and cost implications of any adjournment and the uncertainty associated with any alternative potential transaction, and in the circumstances consider that it is appropriate for the CVA to proceed on its present timetable.

“Critically, the board has committed to modify the CVA proposal so that in the event of a sale of the Group to this third party within the next six months, compromised landlords will have their arrears as of today’s date paid in full.”