Spirit set for floatation in the New Year

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It's "business as usual" at Spirit as the company prepares for its forthcoming floatation.Speaking shortly after Spirit Group announced it had...

It's "business as usual" at Spirit as the company prepares for its forthcoming floatation.

Speaking shortly after Spirit Group announced it had completed a £2.1bn restructuring of its debts, finance director Benedict Smith confirmed that Spirit was priming itself for floatation on the stock market at some stage next year.

"We have spent a great deal of time working on the integration of the S&N estate and subsequent disposals and now Spirit can refocus on developing the business without these distractions," said finance director Benedict Smith.

Asked when Spirit would float, Mr Smith continued: "We are not shy of talking about this and will be looking closely to see what is happening in the market as we start to formulate our plans. A floatation is a likely exit route for shareholders, although we are not yet sure of the timing."

With the possibility of a general election in the spring, and Spirit's half and full year figures released in February and August respectively, the timing is likely to be in the second half of next year.

Meanwhile Spirit, the UK's largest managed pub company, has around 2,500 pubs and is continuing to grow its estate. The £2.1bn figure raised covers all existing debt borne by the group as a result of the acquisition of the S&N pub estate in late 2003 and includes a £50m credit facility.

Mr Smith confirmed that Spirit will definitely be looking at more acquisitions but would not rush into any purchases. "We will definitely continue to play a role in the very dynamic pub sector and will look closely at anything that comes to the market."

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