European private equity house BC Partners has stepped up the pace in the battle over the future of UK group Six Continents with a bid for the company’s pubs and restaurants business.
The group, which effectively rebuffed a £5.5bn takeover offer from UK entrepreneur Hugh Osmond following shareholder approval of a demerger strategy last week, has received a £3bn offer for Mitchells & Butler, the unit comprising the company’s pubs and restaurant operations, including the O’Neill’s, Vintage Inns, and All Bar One pub chains.
BC Partners is working alongside Martin Grant, former chief executive of Swallow Group and Inn Partnership, according to UK newspaper The Times. The two are planning to launch an offer for the business prior to April 14, the official date for the implementation of the demerger plan to split the business into two separately listed entities, approved by shareholders last week.
BC Partners is unlikely to have a clear run at the Mitchells & Butler unit, which has been the subject of interest from rivals Texas Pacific, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and CVC Capital Partners, which recently confirmed that is was in discussions with a number of private equity and hotel groups about the formation of a consortium to bid for the business which could take the form of an offer.
In the light of interest from potential bidders for part or all of the company’s assets, Six Continents formed a bid committee which will rule on offers submitted to the company. However, the board of Six Continents is understood to remain in favour of a demerger.
BC Partners was unavailable for comment.