THE ISSA brothers are reportedly close to taking over Caffè Nero after a £140 million deal to buy the coffee chain's debts.

The billionaire EG Group founders, from Blackburn, have been interested in acquiring Caffè Nero since late last year, however their efforts have so far been rebuffed with the most recent setback to a planned legal challenge coming just weeks ago.

Up until this point the coffee chain had resisted the brothers' takeover attempts.

A statement from Caffe Nero said: "We have had a successful winter and spring trading and are generating positive cash flow and are ahead of forecast for the last five months.

"We are forecasting no covenant issues in our projections over the next 12 months and we look forward to an even brighter future post May 17 when we open up our cafes fully to the public.”

This latest development comes just days after the brothers' EG Group announced the acquisition of fresh fast food restaurant chain Leon Restaurants Limited.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa first expressed an interest in the popular coffee outlet, which employs around 5,000 people across the UK and has branches in Clitheroe and Preston, in late 2020 only to find their offer rejected by founder Jerry Ford, who instead opted for insolvency.

Under the current insolvency plans, Caffè Nero rents are set to be slashed as part of a company voluntary arrangement agreed during the company’s insolvency process.

The Issa brothers had attempted to block this process by funding a legal challenge by Caffè Nero's landlords, which could have lost out due to this arrangement, only to see the challenge falter earlier this month when all but one of the landlords pulled out.

However, according to reports in the Sunday Telegraph, Mohsin and Zuber Issa have now bought around £140 million of loans made to Caffè Nero from Partners Group, a Swiss private equity firm, via investment bank Morgan Stanley.

This leaves the pair in a very strong position to take control of the company if it defaults on its borrowing.

The Issa brothers' representatives have said previously that they believe they would be 'ideal partners' for Caffè Nero.