'M&B in discussions with private equity firms'

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Mitchells & Butlers is in discussions with private equity investors about the sale of a sizeable stake "at a material premium to the current...

Mitchells & Butlers is in discussions with private equity investors about the sale of a sizeable stake "at a material premium to the current share price". Bain Capital, Permira and a consortium of CVC and Blackstone have all been in discussions about acquiring a stake of up to 29.9 per cent in the group- The FT

Punch Taverns forecast no let-up in the malaise hitting the pubs industry, warning that beer duty increases and tighter consumer spending would put further pressure on trading. The UK's biggest pubs operator, with an estate of 8,450 houses, yesterday said a second quarter of "subdued" trading would be followed by more of the same into the second half of the financial year. The shares fell 46½p to 539p- The FT

Giles Thorley, chief executive of Punch Taverns, warned yesterday that the 6 per cent rise in alcohol duty announced in the March budget could encourage excessive drinking because customers may choose to buy cheaper booze from supermarkets and drink heavily at home- The Guardian

The Office of Fair Trading has accused tobacco manufacturers and retailers, including some of the UK's biggest supermarkets, of acting unlawfully over the price of tobacco products- The Guardian

A man who probably had a weak heart may have died as a result of high caffeine levels in his system, after drinking four cans of energy drink Red Bull every night, an inquest has heard- The Scotsman

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, yesterday moved to reassure losers from the 10p tax-band row that they will be compensated by the end of the financial year- The Scotsman

A bar is offering eight hours of free vodka to women customers. The stunt, to run from 6pm to 2am in June, was slammed over binge drinking fears yesterday- The Sun

A single mother has been fined £75 for "littering" after her daughter dropped a piece of sausage roll on the pavement. The incident happened in Hull city centre on Monday and a fixed penalty fine arrived in the post just three days later- The Telegraph

Scotch whisky producer Inver House Distillers has reported a doubling of annual profits following a "significant" investment in its marketing activities - The Scotsman

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