London's Mountleigh Is Falling Down

The big European takeover machine fashioned by U.S. dealmakers Nelson Peltz and Peter May has faltered. Mountleigh Group, their British property developer and owner of Spain's second-largest department-store chain, has gone into receivership, staggering under some $950 million in debt.

Peltz and May gained control of Mountleigh in late 1989, just ahead of the crash in British real estate prices that has imperiled such other developers as Olympia & York. The duo never came close to replicating in Europe the wheeling and dealing that made them a fortune in the U.S. Instead, the roughly $90 million in shares they hold are nearly worthless. They are in illustrious company: A year ago, Peltz and May lured equity investments from Chicago's Pritzker family and a trust controlled by oil scion Gordon Getty.

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