Alchemy sells pub group for £335m

Punch Taverns has acquired the 1,000+ strong UK pub chain Innspired Group in a deal valued at £335m.

London-based private equity firm Alchemy Partners has sold Innspired Group to the UK’s second largest pub company, Punch Taverns. The deal  values the chain at £335 million (€490 million; $600 million), according to a report from Reuters.

The deal includes £258 million of debt, Reuters said. A total of 1,064 pubs have been sold to Punch, which currently manages more than 7,000 outlets across the UK.

Alchemy originally acquired pub manager Ushers of Towbridge in a £108 million take-private in 1998 and subsequently merged it with The Alehouse Company in 1999 to form Innspired.

The newly formed group was securitised in a £175 million bond issue, expanded in 2001 to £218 million to finance further group acquisitions including the acquisition of 174 pubs from Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries for £28.25 million.

The Innspired Group reportedly generated EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) in excess of £30 million last year.

The UK pub sector has attracted significant interest from private equity houses in the UK. In March this year, a consortium comprising Cinven, Legal & General Ventures and Princes Gate Investors sold pub operator Unique Pub Company to Enterprise Inns, the UK’s largest pub chain, in a transaction valued at approximately £609 million.

The transaction represents the latest in a string of disposals for Alchemy, which has returned more than £1 billion to investors so far this year.

In July, the firm sold UK hotel chain Paramount Hotels for £215 million, which followed the £775 million sale of the Four Seasons nursing home group to Allianz Capital Partners.

Earlier in the year, the firm exited Irish educational publisher Riverdeep and UK jeweller Goldsmiths via trade sales and achieved a rare IPO this year by floating UK coal producer ATH Resources on the London Stock Exchange.