Former Greene King boss heads up new pubs venture

Rooney Anand, former chief executive of Greene King

Rooney Anand, former chief executive of Greene King, who is set to become RedCat's executive chairman - Credit: Adam Smyth

The long-time boss of pubs and brewing giant Greene King has secured £200million to launch a new pubs venture.

Rooney Anand called time on his 14-year tenure at the Bury St Edmunds group in 2019.

Now he has secured a mammoth cash injection from Los Angeles-based Oaktree to launch the RedCat Pub Company, which will partner with licensees, publicans and entrepreneurs to help "support the recovery of the sector", he said.

Even though pubs and bar across the UK are on their knees after a third national lockdown prompted by the coronavirus crisis, Mr Anand believes there is pent-up demand - with the prospect of more people holidaying in the UK because of Brexit once virus restrictions ease up.

RedCat's first focus will be on buying pub sites in the east, south-east and south of the UK, and it will be headed up by Mr Anand, who is set to become its executive chairman.

Mr Anand said the pub sector had withstood many challenges throughout history and he firmly believes it will recover, as it plays an essential role in the community.

"I feel confident that with the right support, the sector will bounce back after this pandemic," he said.

He added that he had "always been a strong believer in the great British pub".

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"It has survived the Blitz, the Great Plague and the Credit Crunch - always bouncing back and taking its rightful place at the heart of the community.

"We want to partner with talented licensees and entrepreneurs to give them the support, capital and help they need to thrive."

Oaktree specialises in investing in distressed firms and has expanded to become a prominent asset manager. It holds stakes in UK firms, including Fitness First and Countrywide.

Mark Pinder, partner in Ipswich-based law firm Birketts’ corporate team, which advised on the deal, said: “This investment is fantastic news for both parties and the wider hospitality sector.

"The boosted investment capabilities of RedCat should put them in a unique position to lift the UK pub sector out of the slump caused by a series of extended lockdowns.

"We are delighted to have assisted on this deal and we look forward to seeing RedCat develop into a formidable regional player and grow their portfolio.”