Robert Breareis preparing to launch a formal bid this week for Wolverhampton & Dudley, the UK regional pubs and brewing business, the Observer reports. He is expected to offer under 500p per share, valuing the business at up to £465m.
Breare, backed by private equity firm Botts & Co, is set to share out the Wolves pubs with Enterprise Inns, the 2,600 strong leased and tenanted pub estate run by Ted Turpen. It is believed that Breare will hold on to the 700 best-managed pubs to add to Noble House Leisure, his restaurant company, which last November bought Oriental Restaurant Group.
He will also keep hold of the best brewing assets owned by W&D, including the Pedigree brand, which is produced at Burton on Trent. Wolves’ three other breweries are at Wolverhampton, Mansfield and Hartlepool.
A management bid led by David Thompson has secured backing but is unlikely to beat Breare.
In August last year, its board rejected Breare’s 500p per share offer for Wolves. In September, the entrepreneur was expected to launch a 550p per share hostile bid for for the brewing company but the brewer put together a defence strategy, announcing plans to restructure and create three separate lines of business. However the following month the company suddenly turned round and made clear it was willing to talk to its stalker after all. Breare’s interest in the industry appeared to broaden to other opportunities, namely Whitbread’s 3000 pubs, the 900 outlets put up for sale by Bass, and Scottish and Newcastle’s 500 pubs. Breare was quoted as saying: “We are looking at a broad range of opportunities.”
Wolves had been forced to put itself up for sale having seen its shares go from a high of 618.5p in 1999 to a low of 322p last summer. Results have significantly improved though. Last December the company announced full year profits of £65m, up from £50.2m.