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Rocco Forte Hotels seeking new long-term partner – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

22 June 2009 by
Rocco Forte Hotels seeking new long-term partner – For more hospitality stories, see what the weekend papers say

Rocco Forte Hotels seeking new long-term partner
Read the full article in The Times >>

M&B faces new challenge from hedge fund investors
Embattled pub group Mitchells & Butlers - which is seeking a new chief executive in the wake of a disastrous hedging arrangement that cost it £500m - faces a new challenge from a group of rebel investors led by the Leo hedge fund. The consortium is seeking two board seats to give it a greater say in the group's strategy and plans to call an extraordinary general meeting if its request is refused. The rebels include Unigra International, the investment vehicle of the Martini family and entrepreneur Trevor Hemmings. Irish horseracing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier along with Piedmont, M&B;s biggest backer, are also thought likely to support the rebels' move. Piedmont, a vehicle for billionaire Joe Lewis, bought out most of the stake belonging to Robert Tchenguiz last year and is rumoured to want to see the £1b pub giant broken up in the long term. - Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

Punch to sell up to 1,150 pubs Punch Taverns is planning to sell up to 1,150 (or nearly 14%) of its pub portfolio to raise up to £600m towards reducing its £4.4b debt. It is looking to offload between 750 and 1,000 of its tenanted pubs and between 100 and 150 of its managed houses. The group, which raised £353m in a share placing last week, has set up a turnaround division of 1,250 under-performing tenanted pubs from which it now plans to sell up to 1,000 properties over time, double the 500 indicated previously. It has raised just over £200m from the recent sale of more than 320 sites and says deals are in hand to sell 200 pubs to their tenants. Last week, it sold a small number of pubs to the Real Pub Company. - Read the full article in the Sunday Times >>

One-third of pubs sold convert to alternative uses
A third of pubs that are changing hands are being converted into alternative uses such as offices, flats, doctors' surgeries, nurseries; drive-through launderettes, religious meeting halls, used car lots, or mini-supermarkets. The financial meltdown and the trend away from drinking in pubs has fuelled this conversion frenzy by forcing many large operators such as Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns to sell individual properties rather than large packages. Property agent Fleurets - which says that 260 of the 561 freehold pubs it has for sale are listed for potential new uses - last month amended its website to include a specialist section listing pubs with alternative use potential. Christie & Co, too, is also targeting alternative buyers. Both, however, insist that, far from being endangered, there are currently too many pubs in the UK. "There has been a lot of alarming news about pubs closing - it is up to 50 a week now. There are still 57,000 but 50,000 would be a more sensible number. British pubs are a great institution and the viable ones will remain," said Neil Morgan, head of pubs and restaurants at Christie + Co. - 21 June, Read the full story in the Observer >>

By Angela Frewin

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