Punch, which is backed by US company Fortress Investment Group, is understood to have requested access to information about the sale of Amber Taverns, which would potentially create a business operating almost 1,500 sites, according to Sky News.
Sky reported Punch was, along with major UK pub operators including Heineken and Admiral Taverns, expected to examine bids for Amber Taverns, although it was unclear whether it would proceed to lodging formal offers.
The auction of Amber Taverns, run by Sapient Corporate Finance, could cost the winning bidder about £200m but this could price tag could be lower as fears of a recession and slowdown in spending at pubs start to accelerate.
Amber Taverns, which is owned by MxP – an investment vehicle set up by Michael George, the former controlling shareholder in Weetabix – and is also backed by Ares Capital Management, operates about 160 pubs in northern England, Wales and the Midlands.
In November last year, Amber Taverns announced it was targeting further expansion in the south-west and south Wales after opening three sites in 2021.
Punch Pubs was acquired by Fortress from Patron Capital Partners late last year for about £1bn. It operates about 1,300 pubs across the UK and won the prestigious Best Tenanted/Leased Pub Company (501+ sites) at The Publican Awards 2021.
It was the second time the pubco had won the title and was credited in part to the way Punch had sold a large chunk of the business to Star Pubs & Bars in 2017, and forged ahead with a slimline and agile company, led by a new management team, headed by chief executive Clive Chesser.
This week, Punch Pubs site the Warwickshire Lad, in Kingsbury, opened a craft ale brewery on-site with Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zawahi, cutting the ceremonial ribbon.