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Scots fund manager Mellon gets dividend ahead of firm’s closure

Jim Mellon

Jim Mellon: payout (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish multi-millionaire fund manager Jim Mellon is said to be among a number of investors including Tory minister Zac Goldsmith and diamond tycoon Anthony Oppenheimer who shared in a £16m dividend from a chain of bowling alleys just months before it ran out of money.

All Star Lanes, which owns five bowling alleys in London and Manchester, was sold last week to Risk Capital Partners in a pre-pack administration, a move that preserved jobs and saved the brand.

However, the sale is likely to wipe out the majority of the company’s creditors, including HMRC, which issued a winding-up petition this month over unpaid taxes.

The Sunday Times said it raises questions over why the company decided to pay out a bumper £5 per share dividend just months before it ran out of money.

The investors struck gold after the company sold its branch in Whiteleys shopping centre in Bayswater for £18m.

Conservative MP and former mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith owned shares in All Star Lanes valued at more than £70,000 until April, according to the register of MPs’ interests.

Other listed shareholders include De Beers group diamond magnate Oppenheimer, billionaire investor Mellon and fund manager New Star Investment Trust, according to the report.

All Star Lanes was founded in 2006 by Mark von Westenholz and Adam Breeden. The company’s first branch was in Holborn, and it now operates bowling alleys in Brick Lane, Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City, as well as a fifth site in Manchester.

Breeden has since launched other successful leisure ventures, including Bounce ping pong club and darts venue Flight Club.

All Star Lanes swung to a loss of £333,000 on sales of £15.5m in the year to the end of 2017, according to the firm’s latest accounts.

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