Punch pub body blow

29/11/2010

Punch Taverns is calling time on nearly 6,000 UK pubs in order to tackle its debts. Punch is facing a debt of £3.1bn and its new Chairman Ian Dyson  is considering handing over its tenanted estate to bondholders.

Mr Dyson wants to focus on the remaining 800 pubs directly managed by Punch, which includes the Chef & Brewer chain.

The group, which also manages the Fayre & Square pub chain, is understood to have appointed bank Goldman Sachs and asset management firm Blackstone to prepare for a restructuring.

The restructuring proposal is among options being considered by Mr Dyson. Others include a debt-for-equity swap or more pub disposals. Punch’s borrowings have been slowly reduced by pub sell-offs, but shares have plunged from 1365p three years ago to 59p on Friday.

The company offloaded 893 pubs in the financial year to August, in which it reported underlying profits of £131 million for the period, down from £160 million a year earlier.

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