EG Group, the petrol forecourts empire of Asda’s new owners the Issa brothers, has failed in a bid to buy Caffè Nero.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa’s group made the offer on Sunday evening, just hours before a crunch meeting between the coffee chain and its creditors.

Caffè Nero is seeking approval for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) after its sales slumped during the coronavirus lockdowns. 

The business dismissed the offer as “opportunistic” last night and vowed to press ahead with its CVA plan.   

The decision is likely to anger Caffè Nero’s landlords, who would have been paid in full for any rent arrears under the terms of the EG proposal.

Caffè Nero wants to cut rents across its portfolio of stores, which includes 650 own-brand shops and 150 Harris + Hoole locations, after being hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It described EG’s bid as a “clear intention is to disrupt the CVA process” and suggested the move could be a precursor to the Isaa brothers “opportunistically acquiring the company at a later date”.

In a terse statement last night, Caffè Nero added: “Importantly, the group’s external lenders have indicated their support for the CVA process.

“The lenders are aware of the approach referred to above and have not requested a change in strategy, and shareholders have undertaken to reject the offer.”

EG Group currently runs 6,000 petrol forecourts across the UK, Europe, the US and Australia. It already has partnerships with fast food and coffee chains such as KFC and Starbucks.

The Issa brothers were thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after winning the race to acquire supermarket giant Asda.

The brothers teamed up with TDR Capital to strike a £6.8bn deal with Asda’s American owner Walmart, which will return the grocer to private ownership for the first time in almost 25 years.

Questions have since been raised about the Issa’s finances, however. EG Group’s auditor Deloitte quit suddenly in October and, just days later, agency Moody’s downgraded its credit rating, criticising the business for failing to improve its financial reporting and management processes.