Ei Group, the largest owner and operator of pubs in the UK, is set to sell 370 of its commercial properties to Tavern Propco for £348m.
The group has entered into sale agreements, subject to shareholder approval, with Tavern Propco, a newly incorporated private company ultimately owned by Davidson Kempner Capital Management.
Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group (pictured), said: “Throughout the sale process, we have been impressed with the commitment and speed of execution demonstrated by Davidson Kempner, a global institutional investment management firm with over $31b in assets under management and a long track record of investing in real estate.”
The group announced in September that it was exploring opportunities to sell all or part of the portfolio, which at the end of last year stood at 412 properties. Ei described the sale as “a successful outcome” and an “attractive valuation for the portfolio”.
Tavern Propco has already paid Ei Group a deposit of £33.66m, which is non-refundable unless shareholders do not approve the disposal.
A “significant proportion” of the proceeds will be used to reduce the group’s outstanding debt, and the board will consider more immediate returns to shareholders. It will also allow the group flexibility to invest in driving growth in its core publican partnerships, managed operations and managed investments divisions, while also identifying properties to rebuild its commercial properties division.
Completion is expected to occur in early March 2019. Ei Group will continue to provide some management services across the portfolio for up to 12 months.
Rothschild & Co acted as sole financial adviser to Ei Group on the disposal.