Daily Express

Marston’s swoop cheers investors

- By Graham Hiscott

PUB giant Marston’s is the target of a takeover swoop by a US private equity firm.

Shares in the company surged by more than a fifth after it confirmed a potential cash offer by Platinum Equity Advisors.

The proposal comes as all of the chain’s 1,368 pubs remain shut due to the lockdown.

In a statement to investors, Marston’s said: “The board will evaluate the proposal with its advisers and a further announceme­nt will be made in due course.

“There can be no certainty that any firm offer will be made for the company, nor as to the terms on which any firm offer might be made.”

Under long-serving chief executive Ralph Findlay, the Wolverhamp­ton-based business has significan­tly expanded in recent years. However, earlier this month, the group revealed £54million in revenues for the three months to January, down dramatical­ly from £1.17billion the same period a year earlier.

It said it was neverthele­ss focused on its strategic developmen­t and would use £233million collected from a joint venture with Carlsberg UK to reduce debts.

Marston’s retains a 40 per cent stake in a £780million venture with Carlsberg UK after the two merged their brewing operations last year.

In October, the maker of Pedigree, Hobgoblin and Lancaster Bomber beers announced plans to cut 2,150 jobs across its pubs because of the impact of Covid-19. Before the pandemic, a raft of UK pubs firms were the target of private investors who believed there was strong growth and profit potentia. In 2019, rival Ei Group was snapped-up by private equityback­ed Stonegate Group, which runs chains including Slug & Lettuce, in a £3billion deal to create the UK’s biggest pub and bar owner. Later in the year, Greene King was taken private by Hong Kong’s CK Bidco in a £2.7billion deal.

Shares in other pub companies rose yesterday on the back of the news.

 ??  ?? Expansion… Ralph Findlay
Expansion… Ralph Findlay

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