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Private equity firm buys Amber Taverns

13 October 2010 by
Private equity firm buys Amber Taverns

Private equity house LGV has acquired Preston-based pub firm Amber Taverns as part of a management buy-out of the firm.

Amber Taverns, which was founded in 2005, owns and operates 56 pubs in the North-west and North-east and offers its pub managers a share of the takings.

LGV, which is part of the Legal & General group, has backed the existing management team of Clive Preston (chairman), James Baer (joint managing director), Bryan Wardman (Joint managing director), Michael Norris (finance director) and Gary Roberts (operations director).

Commenting on the deal, Bill Priestley, a managing director at LGV, said "We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of Amber Taverns. The death of community pubs has been significantly over exaggerated in recent years and Amber is a perfect example of a business which has quietly gone about disproving the rule that pubs can only succeed where there is a food offering. We, together with Amber's long-term funders, Lloyds Banking Group, look forward to supporting the management team to expand the estate further over the next few years."

Amber Taverns chairman Clive Preston said: "Our management have taken a financial stake in the acquiring vehicle and are aiming to make it one of the fastest growing pub owner-operators in the UK. The team has the ability to double the size of the business in the next three to four years with the help and support of LGV.

"Our policy of purchasing carefully selected distressed or closed pubs in busy locations in the North of England and then making a significant investment in refurbishing them has been hugely successful. We add further value by featuring key sporting events on big screen TVs, and by selling premier brands at realistic prices.

"We have developed a unique operating model which empowers pub managers to be entrepreneurs, highly incentivises them by giving them a percentage of their sales and encourages them to be a genuine host."

LGV was previously one of the backers of Enterprise Inns before it floated in 1995, co-funded the acquisition of the Unique Pubco, which was sold to Enterprise Inns in 2004 and backed the management buy-out of the Liberation Group, a Channel Islands-based pub company and brewer, in 2008. It was offered property advice on the Amber Inns deal by Christie + Co, while law firms Pinsent Masons and CMS Cameron McKenna offered advice to the seller and the buyer respectively. The Delphi Partnership offered financial advice.

The private equity firm bought Amber Taverns from Unicorn Asset Management, Acuity Capital Management and MaxCap Partners who, after five years, made 2.7 times their original investment from the deal.

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By Neil Gerrard

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