Emerald Investment, which is run by former Punch employee Alan McIntosh, had previously indicated that it would top Heineken's bid of 180p per share by bidding 185p per share. However, Emerald has now made a U-turn by confirming that it no longer intends to make an offer for the estate of 3200 pubs, of which 1,900 pubs were to be sold onto Heineken.
The move means that Heineken/Patron Capital Partners is the only bidder for these sites now, with Punch shareholders set to vote on the bid next Friday (10 February) and, therefore, looks likely to add the sites to its Star Pubs & Bars portfolio.
More scrutiny to come
If the Heineken/Patron bid is successful, it will increases the Dutch brewer's UK estate to almost 3,000 sites and industry bodies have already voiced their concerns over the bid, with British Pub Confederation chair Greg Mulholland saying: "It would not be in the interests of consumers or licensees to have Heineken buying Punch."
As a result, Heineken's bid is likely to be referred to the Competition Commission even if the Punch board approves the sole remaining bid next week.
A Heineken spokesperson has said that the company will "fully co-operate" with any deliberations.
"If the deal were to complete, we would welcome the 1,900 Punch lessees into our Star Pubs & Bars business and, over a period of time, work with them to decide what the best stocking policy is to ensure that their business continues to grow and thrive.
"We have an excellent track record in investing in our estate [circa £20m per year] and this strategy will continue with these new pubs with a rolling programme of refurbishment and rejuvenation working with individual licensees to transform their pubs into thriving businesses," the spokesperson added.
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