U.K. Pub Owner Marston’s Receives Platinum Takeover Approach

Marston’s Plc has received a takeover approach from Platinum Equity, the latest attempt by a private equity firm to buy a storied British pub operator.

Platinum made an unsolicited, non-binding proposal on a possible cash bid, Marston’s said in a Friday statement, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. The company’s board will evaluate the proposal with its advisers, it said.

Shares of Marston’s jumped as much as 30% after Bloomberg News first reported the approach. They were up 17% at 1:29 p.m. Friday in London, giving the company a market value of about 557 million pounds ($765 million) and putting it on track to close at the highest since February last year.

Including the company’s debt load, Marston’s has an enterprise value of about 2.2 billion pounds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. There is no certainty of a firm offer from Platinum, Marston’s said in its statement.

Marston’s could attract interest from other private equity buyers, according to people familiar with the matter. A representative for Platinum didn’t immediately respond to emailed queries outside regular U.S. business hours.

Marston’s has been involved in the pub and brewery business for more than 180 years, according to its website. It runs more than 1,400 drinking establishments, including outlets of the Pitcher & Piano chain, and makes its own premium ales under brands including Hobgoblin and Wainwright.

U.K. Lockdown

Like the broader hospitality sector, Marston’s has been grappling with the impact of forced pub closures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19. In October, the group said it would have to cut around 2,150 pub-based jobs in response to the crisis. As the country entered its third national lockdown earlier this month, Marston’s said it had “significant liquidity” thanks in part to the formation of a U.K. joint venture with brewer Carlsberg A/S, which brought in initial proceeds of 233 million pounds.

Analysts at Peel Hunt LLP said at the time that Marston’s was “increasingly well positioned to emerge strongly from the pandemic.” An acquisition of the company would be the third takeover in recent years of a leading U.K. pub group, as the industry faces pressure from changing consumer habits and uncertainties related to Brexit.

Private equity firm TDR Capital, owner of Stonegate Pub Co., agreed in 2019 to acquire British pub owner EI Group Plc for about 1.3 billion pounds. The same year, Hong Kong tycoon Victor Li’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. struck a 2.7 billion-pound deal to buy U.K. bar and restaurant group Greene King Plc.

U.S.-based Platinum made its first acquisition in Europe nearly two decades ago, according to its website. Its portfolio of hospitality assets in the region includes a holiday rental business bought from Wyndham Worldwide Corp. for around $1.3 billion in 2018.

Platinum has been stepping up its pace of dealmaking lately, agreeing in December to acquire technology distributor Ingram Micro Inc. from debt-laden Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. for about $7.2 billion.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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