Former Greene King boss eyes comeback with £200m pub deal

Former Greene King boss Rooney Anand eyes comeback
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Hope of a post lockdown pub boom is driving a M&A spree, and Rooney Anand, a man who knows all about acquisitions, is in the swim.


Leisure industry veteran Rooney Anand, who led Greene King for 14- years prior to stepping down from the post in 2019, is being linked with a move to acquire Hawthorn Leisure, which has 673 tenanted community pubs. Hawthorn, which is being offloaded by property group NewRiver was valued at £262m six months ago, with analysts predicting a sale price closer to £200m.

Anand formed the RedCat Pub Company last year to take advantage of the pandemic induced downturn raising more than £200m from private equity firm Oaktree. To date he has agreed to purchase 40 pubs from Stonegate, owners of the Slug & Lettuce brand.

In a parallel move the City Pub Group has confirmed it’s on the hunt for new premises.

Executive chairman Clive Watson said the company was assessing potential acquisitions ahead of a strong expected uptick in trading. The company has 24 of its 45 pubs open which are trading at 77 percent of 2019 levels.

In his chairman’s statement Watson confirmed: “As we emerge from the pandemic, there will be opportunities that arise and we are assessing investment opportunities on a very selective basis.

“Despite the pandemic, we have not stood still. Across the estate, we have now added more than 600 outside covers allowing for outside trading under Government restrictions in the short term, and moreover for the long term as we look to take advantage of the forecast trend of increased domestic holidays. The Group also benefits from 191 bedrooms. The make-up of our estate, combined with the work undertaken during the lockdown periods places us in a very strong position to capitalise on opportunities as restrictions ease.”

On a normalised trading basis, the directors’ valuation of the Group’s portfolio is approximately £150m.

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