Belfast Telegraph

Slug and Lettuce owner buying 4,000 pubs for £1.28bn

Private equity-backed Stonegate wants EIG and its huge pub portfolio.

The company behind Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates is buying the UK’s biggest pub owner (PA)
The company behind Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates is buying the UK’s biggest pub owner (PA)

The company behind Slug and Lettuce, Walkabout and Yates has snapped up the UK’s biggest pub owner for £1.28 billion.

EIG – formerly known as Enterprise Inns – has 4,000 pubs and properties across the country, and Stonegate’s private equity backers are keen to grow, despite the strain on the pubs sector and high street more broadly.

The deal is the second for TDR Capital, the private equity firm which owns Stonegate, after it bought We Buy Any Car owner BCA Marketplace for £1.9 billion last month.

Stonegate’s bid values EIG’s shares at 285p each – which is 38.5% above the closing price on Wednesday evening, and 26.8% above the highest closing price over the last 10 years, the companies said.

The company explained: “With greater scale and diversification, Stonegate believes that the combined group will be better positioned to compete effectively in what is expected to be a challenging operating environment for the foreseeable future, which would be to the benefit of all stakeholders including tenants, employees, customers and local communities.”

Stonegate was set up by TDR in 2010 as a vehicle to buy 333 pubs from Mitchells and Butlers.

The company has subsequently spent £350 million on expansions and now has more than 765 sites following 11 acquisitions in the last nine years.

Ian Payne, chairman of Stonegate, said: “We look forward to working with EIG and its publicans to support future growth and create stronger pubs at the heart of communities across the UK.”

Robert Walker, chairman of EIG, said: “The commercial benefits of combining the companies are compelling.

“Stonegate is committed to continuing to invest in the business for the future benefit of the combined business, tenants and employees. The EIG board believes that this is a combination it can recommend with confidence to shareholders and stakeholders alike.”

The deal is set to be put to a vote of EIG shareholders, but is unlikely to face any opposition, with the board recommending the deal.

It is the latest in a long line of deals and bids by private equity firms, who are keen to buy out publicly-listed companies.

According to Bloomberg, there were more private equity buyouts in June of listed firms than any month for more than a decade.

PA

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