Pub giant Marston’s has been approached by a US private equity firm over a potential takeover.
Shares in the Wolverhampton-based company surged by more than a fifth immediately after it confirmed the proposal regarding a potential cash offer by Platinum Equity Advisors.
The proposal comes as all of Marston’s 1,368 pubs remain shut to customers due to the national coronavirus 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.”
It said it was nevertheless focused on its strategic development and would use £233 million collected from a joint venture with Carlsberg UK to reduce debts.
Last year, it merged its brewing operations with Carlsberg UK to create a £780 million joint venture, in which it now retains a 40% stake.
In October, Marston’s announced plans to cut 2,150 jobs across its pubs due to the impact of the virus.
Before the pandemic, a raft of UK pubs firms were the target of private investors who believed there was strong growth and profit potential in the sector.
In 2019, rival Ei Group was snapped up by private equity-backed Stonegate Group, which runs chains including Slug & Lettuce, in a £3 billion 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 £2.7 billion deal.
Shares were 15.7% higher at 86.6p at midday on Friday.