Heineken agrees Punch Taverns takeover deal

Dutch brewing giant Heineken and a partner investment firm are poised to acquire one of Britain’s biggest pub chains for £403 million.

heineken-2In a statement, Punch Taverns’ directors said they would unanimously recommend the offer to shareholders.

Its three biggest shareholders, which control 52.3% of the company, have already registered their support.

Heineken saw off a rival bid led by Alan McIntosh, one of Punch’s founders. It will pay 180p per share, more than the 174p per share proposal that emerged yesterday.

The deal will add 1,900 of Punch’s 3,300 pubs to Heineken’s existing portfolio of 1,100, subject to formal approval from Punch shareholders and competition regulators.

Patron Capital, a private equity firm, will buy and take control of the remaining 1,400 Punch pubs.

David Forde, Heineken UK’s managing director, said that the deal was a “huge vote of confidence in the great British pub.

“Today’s development is good news for pub-goers across the UK who will see the benefit of better pubs in their communities,” he added.

Punch Taverns had been struggling for years, but last month posted an annual profit of £60m.

Stephen Billingham, Punch’s chairman, said that the size of the deal reflected the “hard work and quality of the whole Punch team”.

When rumours of the bid first surfaced, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association said it had “grave concerns” about possible consequences the deal could have for the pub trade.

“[It is] a backwards move [and] it represents bad news for brewers, whose route to market will almost certainly be controlled by Heineken. It also signals bad news for drinkers who will be offered far less choice at the bar,” said Paul Waterson, the Association’s CEO.

This sentiment was echoed by Colin Valentine, chairman of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), who said that such “attempts to monopolise” the pub market “goes against the spirit of the great British pub and undermines the ‘local’ in a great local”.

Valentine added that the sale of the pubs will “bring huge uncertainty to the industry and local communities alike”.

A spokesperson for Heineken dismissed the claims by saying Heineken’s portfolio will constitute just 6% of the number of pubs in the UK when the takeover is completed.

“We have a proven track record of success and customers will see better invested pubs and have a better consumer experience,” he told db.

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