Shareholders support Greene King in pubs group takeover

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King - Credit: Archant

A Bury St Edmunds-based pubs and brewing group was on track to becoming the country’s leading pub chain after its shareholders voted in favour of a takeover deal.

Greene King shareholders yesterday gave their overwhelming blessing to its plan to acquire rival Spirit Pub Company for £774million pounds ($1.17 billion), paving the way to creating an estate of more than 3,000 managed and leased pubs.

Later in the day, Spirit shareholders followed suit.

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, hailed the shareholder support for the deal, which considerably expands the firm’s current estate of around 1,900 pubs.

“It is pleasing to have received such overwhelming support for this transaction from shareholders,” he said.

“The combination of Greene King and Spirit Pub Company will create the UK’s leading managed pub company and deliver significant value for shareholders through the capture of attractive synergies and anticipated earnings accretion.”

The takeover was agreed in November and followed Spirit’s rejection of an earlier approach from Magners cider maker C&C Group.

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Spirit, owner of pub restaurant brands including Chef & Brewer, has an estate of 794 managed pubs.

It also includes the food-led Fayre & Square and Flaming Grill brands and the drink-based Taylor Walker and John Barras chains.

In addition, it has 433 pubs in its leased estate, most of which are former managed sites with an average annual net income of more than £100,000.

Greene King shareholders voted at a meeting yesterday morning, and Spirit shareholders followed with a meeting later in the day.

C&C, which owns drinks brands including Magners, Bulmers and Gaymers ciders and Tennent’s lager but does not currently have a pub estate of its own, viewed Spirit as an opportunity to create a new vertically-integrated player in the UK market.

But most analysts suggested a tie-up between Greene King and Spirit offered greater scope for efficiencies and C&C confirmed that it would not be going ahead with a bid.

Under the deal agreed, Spirit shareholders will receive 0.1322 new Greene King shares and and 8p in cash for every Spirit share currently held. The cash element, to be paid by Spirit as dividends, will consist of a 1.5p per share final dividend for 2014 and a special interim dividend of 6.5p per share.