Pub group Admiral Taverns has agreed to acquire the Hawthorn pub portfolio from real estate investment trust NewRiver for around £222.3m, taking its estate to more than 1,600 pubs.
Hawthorn's nationwide portfolio of 674 pubs is a mixture of predominately tenanted, leased and operator managed sites across England, Wales and Scotland. The deal is expected to complete in August.
Headquartered in Chester, Admiral operates a national estate of 969 predominantly wet-led community pubs. The acquisition will be funded through debt provided by Admiral's current lenders, together with capital provided by existing investor, Proprium Capital Partners.
Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, said: "This is one of the biggest acquisitions by Admiral to date and delivers on our strategy to build our estate to 1,500 sustainable pubs. It is a really exciting step forward for the business and we remain committed to the supportive partnership model, which is highly regarded by licensees.
"Our wet-led, community focused, supportive culture is very much shared by Hawthorn and I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome our new licensees and colleagues to Admiral. The acquisition has allowed us to acquire an excellent portfolio of pubs which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach."
NewRiver had previously announced it was exploring an initial public offering of Hawthorn following a strategic review, which would see the pub group launched as a separately listed company.
Hawthorn was created through the acquisition of 202 pubs from Marston's in December 2013. It acquired 158 pubs from Punch in September 2015 before the acquisition of the eponymous Hawthorn business in May 2018, which comprised 298 pubs. It then acquired the 44-strong Bravo Inns in December 2019 and a further 28 pubs from Marston's.
Allan Lockhart, chief executive of NewRiver, added: "Over recent years, we have grown Hawthorn to become the UK's leading community and wet-led pub business. As a consequence of this, we received significant interest from a range of potential buyers for Hawthorn, following the divestment plan we announced in April 2021.
"We have now agreed the sale of Hawthorn which, once completed, will deliver on our key priority to reset loan to value, strengthening our balance sheet and enabling us to focus on executing our resilient retail strategy. I would like to thank the entire Hawthorn team and, in particular, Mark Davies, who the board had previously mandated to lead the divestment of Hawthorn, for their professionalism and dedication throughout the process, which has delivered a great result for NewRiver shareholders."