Punch Taverns Subject To Takeover Bid

PUnchPunch Taverns Britain’s second biggest pub owner, is considering two possible takeover offers. Shares in Punch, which owns 3,300 about pubs, increased by 38% to 177.7p following the announcement, valuing the company at £380m.

The first possible offer of 174p a share has come from the Dutch brewer Heineken, which already owns about 1,100 UK pubs.

The other approach, of 185p a share, is from Alan McIntosh, a Punch co-founder.

In November Punch reported its first annual profit for three years, and said that it had reached the conclusion of a disposal programme aimed at reducing its huge debt pile.

The advance in its financial performance under new chief executive Duncan Garrood comes after years of restructuring which included a demerger of Spirit, the managed pubs company which was later bought by Greene King.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s chief executive, Paul Waterson, said of Heineken’s interest: “We have grave concerns about today’s announcement and urge the attention of the Competition and Markets Authority.

“It would create a monster-tie; a chain of over 4,400 pubs that would destabilise an already fragile industry.

“A backwards move, 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.

“Moreover there are disturbing implications for tenants who are already compromised by the tied pub system, especially in Scotland where there is an absence of legislative protection.”