Distressed debt investors seek to pick out the diamonds in the rough, the good companies that can be turned around given a fair wind and the right management and capital structure.

These specialist investors buy up the debt of struggling companies aiming either to sell on the debt when the company recovers, or grab an equity stake if the company is forced to cut its borrowing via a debt-for-equity swap.

Stepping into this territory is Dutch brewer Heineken, which has bought up 49 percent of the debt of Globe Pub Company, a UK pub chain owned by property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz.

Writing about this earlier, I pointed out that Heineken may have an eye on taking control of Globe Pub and its 425 pubs via a restructuring, in what would be a rare example of a company’s supplier buying it via a “loan to own” strategy.

After busting loan covenants in April, and with the British pub industry in a pretty sorry state, the future of Globe Pub looks to be increasingly in the hands of its creditors.