Business briefs: Chris Stewart Group | Umbro in Lee Cooper deal | Rathbone Brothers | Student Loans Company

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Chris Stewart Group, the property firm, has been granted permission to turn a row of 18th century townhouses in Baxter’s Place, Edinburgh into a 239-bed four star hotel.

The development will include a restaurant and bar open to the public. CSG is in talks with potential operators interested in taking over the hotel.

Edinburgh Council also supported an application for a change of use at a CSG project in Hamilton Place, where the company is creating six luxury flats and bringing a former theatre back into use as a restaurant or retail space.

Student loan firm signs up lawyers

Law firms Harper Macleod and DLA Piper have been appointed as legal advisers to the Student Loans Company (SLC) in Glasgow.

The contract, which sees the pair join a new external legal panel, will cover a range of areas including technology, debt recovery, commercial property and corporate issues.

The panel will support the SLC’s in-house legal team in its work across the UK and European Union for the next two years, with the option to extend for a further 12 months. The SLC has 1.3 million student customers.

Umbro owner shells out for Lee Cooper

Jeans maker Lee Cooper, which began life 105 years ago as a workwear firm in the east end of London, has been bought by US fashion group Iconix for

$72 million (£47m) in cash.

The deal will see Lee Cooper join a stable of brands that includes Ocean Pacific, Rocawear and Umbro, which Iconix bought from sportswear giant Nike for $225m last year.

Lee Cooper was once owned by Matalan, which bought the jeans business for £45m in 2001, but the discount retailer sold it on to a group of private equity firms, led by Sun Capital Partners, for £30.5m in 2005.

Rathbone adds Howell to payroll

WEALTH manager Rathbone Brothers has recruited former Williams de Broë boss Philip Howell as deputy chief executive, as it unveiled a 13.4 per cent increase in funds under management to £18 billion in the year ended 31 December.

The boost was largely due to a number of acquisitions made last year, as net underlying growth fell slightly. The company was reviewing “a number of acquisition opportunities”. Andy Pomfret, its chief executive, said Edinburgh was its largest office out of London where it manages assets of around £1.8 bn.