Nomura tipped to buy Whitbread’s pub estate

Investment bank Nomura is seen as the most likely candidate to takeover Whitbread’s 3,000 strong pubs estate.

The Japanese bank is thought to be the only interested party to have made an offer for Whitbread's estate as a whole, the Observer reports.

Whitbread’s 3,000 pubs, 1,700 of which are leased, with the remainder managed, are expected to be sold for between £1.4bn and £1.6bn. Nomura already owns more than 5,000 pubs. The Japanese bank bought off-licence chain First Quench from joint owners Punch Taverns and Whitbread in September last year. First Quench has 2,500 stores including Bottoms Up, Thresher, Victoria Wine and Wine Rack chains.

Other bidders for the Whitbread assets include Alchemy Partners, the venture capital firm, and Pubmaster. However both would prefer to bid for only part of the estate.

What could work against Whitbread at this stage is the large number of pubs already on to the market. Bass has put 900 pubs up for sale and Scottish & Newcastle is keen to offload 700 pubs. Management at regional brewer Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries are said to be in advanced buyout talks with UBS Capital. The two sides are said to be in negotiations to secure a price which would value the company at approximately £470m (E740m).

Whitbread's remaining assets, which are to be named “Future Whitbread”, will include hotels, restaurants and leisure club.