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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

The long-running saga regarding the sale (or not) of the Unwins off-licence chain has finally ended following its purchase by DM Private Equity for a price rumoured to be in the region of 25 million. The sale comes despite a senior member of Unwins indicating that a sale and leaseback' arrangement was very much the most likely option just two months ago. One source told Harpers that the sale and leaseback deal appears to have been on the table until the middle of last week, when DM got its act together and came in with a cash bid, which the shareholders accepted.' DM Private Equity - a London-based outfit that holds stakes in numerous private and public companies, including 5% of Palandri Wines - then immediately undertook a sale and leaseback deal on the entire property portfolio it had just bought with property firm Helicalbar. The sum raised is believed to be close to the original purchase price. A spokesperson for DM Private Equity refused to comment on the value of either deal, but did state that the price we paid was somewhat less than the 35 million quoted before Christmas. The deal was renegotiated following poor Christmas trading and other factors.' Unwins' chairman Michael Lunn, who was brought in to negotiate the purchase of the business, has now resigned. DM's spokesman added: It is too early to say what our plans are for the business, but I can say that we feel that Unwins is a great brand, and it is in our best interests to support it. It is highly unlikely that there will be wholesale store closures.'