Punch tenants' deposits 'not secure' as pubco withdraws debt restructure proposals

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Punch tenants Bankruptcy Finance Debt Punch

Punch said it is highly unlikely an administrative receiver would not protect tenants' deposits
Punch said it is highly unlikely an administrative receiver would not protect tenants' deposits
Punch Taverns is unable to guarantee that tenants’ deposits would be secure in the event of a default on its £2.3bn debt mountain, but suggested it would be highly unlikely that an administrative receiver would not protect the funds.

The revelation comes after the pubco withdrew its proposed debt restructuring proposals that were to be put to its creditors on Friday (14 February) “following feedback from a range of stakeholders”.

The company said this morning: “As previously announced, both securitisations will default without a consensual restructuring. The board remains of the view that a consensual restructuring is in the best interests of all stakeholders and can be agreed ahead of the next covenant reporting date of 15 April 2014.”

The company said that “for procedural reasons”, it remains necessary for the meetings to be held on Friday.


Earlier, Punch told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ that its depositors would be treated no differently from other creditors.

But the group claimed it would not be in the interests of any receiver, if appointed in the likelihood of a default, to “act in a way that is prejudicial to tenants and their rights”.

The value of the deposits is understood to total in the region of £22.6m.

Tenant uncertainty

However, some Punch tenants feel they have been kept in the dark and voiced concern over the security of their deposits.

Rumours on a number of trade forums last week suggested suppliers had stopped delivering to Punch pubs and business development managers had given tenants permission to buy outside the tie. However, Punch categorically denied these rumours, saying it was “business as usual” across the estate.

Further confusion arose after licensees received conflicting information in letters from senior Punch executives, seen by the PMA​, on whether deposits would be protected in the event of a financial collapse.

'We're hearing nothing'

Chris Lindesay, of the Sun Inn in Dunsfold, Surrey, has co-ordinated a network of Punch tenants to communicate and share advice amid the uncertainty.

“The issue is there is nobody speaking on behalf of the leaseholders. What’s been really frightening is a lot of tenants have said, ‘if Punch goes into liquidation, where’s my deposit gone? Who do I pay rent to? Do I buy out?’ We’re hearing nothing.

“There is £22.6m that doesn’t belong to Punch, and that should really be put to one side. It’s not their money. It should not be sitting on their balance sheet apparently as an unsecured liability.”

'Feeble responses'

Carol Ross, of the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, said she has spoken to several Punch licensees who are all worried about the “feeble responses” Punch has given to them on the deposits issue.

“They are horrified there appears to be no provision to protect our deposits in case Punch goes into liquidation,” she said.

“The money they have on account from us is in case we don’t pay rent — it’s supposed to be held in a secure account earning interest. At the end of the day the losers here will be the licensees.”

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, MP Greg Mulholland, has called on Punch to protect the funds immediately, regardless of tomorrow’s outcome.

Postponed debt restructure vote

After more than 14 months of discussions, bondholders were due to vote on final plans to restructure the company’s debts on 14 February. It had been mooted that, if an agreement could not be reached, an administrative receiver was likely to be appointed in late spring.

A Punch spokesperson previously said: “Bondholders can bring an end to uncertainty for our 4,000 tenants by voting in favour of the final restructuring proposal.”

Related topics Punch Pubs & Co

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