A billionaire bungalow tycoon has been caught in a bankruptcy battle over alleged unpaid debts.
Robert Bull, who has recently emerged from nowhere and is one of Britain's richest figures, has placed part of his real estate empire under management by one of the country's largest listed private equity investors, The Telegraph can reveal.
Mr Bull has denied the legal action, claiming it was based “on false allegations and unsubstantiated information”.
Nicknamed ‘Bob the billionaire bungalow builder', Mr Bull was a new addition to the Sunday Times rich list last month and his net worth is estimated at almost £2billion.
RoyaleLife, the company he co-founded, claims to be the UK's largest bungalow supplier and Mr Bull built the business by converting caravan parks across the country into single storey villages.
However, court documents show that a number of bankruptcy filings have been filed against companies run by Mr Bull in recent months.
The latest event came last week when city law firm DLA Piper filed for liquidation of Mr Bull's leisure property company Time Group Holdings Limited.
It followed that the same company was served with a liquidation notice from HM Revenue & Customs late last year.
RoyaleLife, meanwhile, has been taken over by a manager from ICG-Longbow Senior Secured UK Property Debt Investments, a debt fund run by a subsidiary of Intermediate Capital Group, the £4 billion FTSE 250 investor listed on the London Stock Exchange appointed.
A spokesman for ICG Longbow said: “We have appointed administrators in connection with our investment in RoyaleLife.
“Our primary duty is to our funds and their investors, and this was a prudent move to protect the company's interests after a third-party creditor filed a liquidation petition against the borrowers of the loans.”
Mr Bull, Chief Executive Officer of RoyaleGroup, said: “Like many companies, we have had a difficult time coming through the pandemic and as a company we have faced liquidation orders based on false claims and unsubstantiated information.”
“These have either been dismissed or are the subject of legal action.
“More than 200 legal entities comprise the RoyaleGroup and these remain unaffected. So I want to reassure our financiers, suppliers, residents and employees that everything will continue as usual.”
The dispute threatens to overshadow a riches-to-riches-to-riches story that has helped Mr. Bull garner rave press coverage of his life story.
According to a newspaper article in May, Mr Bull was “born with a platinum and diamond-encrusted spoon in his mouth”.
He said: “My three sisters and I were raised with everything we could ask for. My grandfather started in the caravan park business in 1945 and all of his children, including my father, joined the same company that grew into the modular bungalow product we offer today.”
His father continued the family business until he “lost everything in the banking crisis of the 1990s”.
Mr Bull then rebuilt the empire and formed the second largest caravan group in Britain with his business partner. However, in 2016 the company ran into trouble and was declared bankrupt, reportedly under the burden of debts totaling £3.5million.
After a period of illness, the entrepreneur came up with the idea of converting caravan parks into bungalow villages. He has sold the properties to aging Brits who would like to downsize.
RoyaleLife is building 64 bungalow complexes, another 40 are planned. A spokesman for the company said that “a recapitalization of the company is underway with the aim of building 1,000 new bungalows across the UK from the end of this year”.
Mr Bull's return to success has allowed him to enjoy luxurious amenities including a £10million mansion in Southampton. It has a 100ft kitchen, a three-lane bowling alley and six double garages housing a £4million collection of 12 supercars.
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