Pub group Punch snapped up by private equity giant Fortress

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Private equity giant Fortress has bought Punch Pubs & Co, one of the UK’s biggest pub groups.

SoftBank-backed Fortress confirmed on Wednesday that it has acquired the 1,300-pub company in a move understood to be worth roughly £1 billion.

It bought Punch, which was founded by industry veterans Hugh Osmond and Roger Myers in 1997, from private equity rival Patron Capital.

Patron had purchased Punch in 2016 as part of a deal which saw the group shrink by more than half after selling 1,900 sites from its estate to Heineken.

The takeover follows Punch’s acquisition of 56 pubs from the Young’s Ram Pub Company for £53 million in July.

The pub group said it been able to “weather the ongoing challenges of the pandemic” due its “resilient” business model and mix of suburban and rural pub sites.

“Fortress is a hugely experienced investor who understands the strengths of our business and fully buys into our strategic positioning and business plan.

“We welcome their ambition and commitment to work alongside the existing management team to invest in the business with innovation and capital to ensure our long-term success in what is a highly competitive market.”

Fortress, which also owns Majestic Wine, has sealed the deal around four months after missing out on supermarket giant Morrisons in a bidding war.

Cyril Courbage, managing director of Fortress Investment Group, said: “We are excited to team with Clive and the Punch management, which has done an exceptional job of navigating the challenges of the Covid crisis while positioning the business for long-term growth and value creation.

“We believe in providing strong management teams with the flexibility and support to execute their long-term strategic plans.

“The UK is an extremely attractive investment environment, and we will continue to explore other opportunities in this sector and across the UK, Ireland and Europe.”

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