Japanese investment bank Nomura International has won the four-month contest for the Bass pub estate according to press reports. Bass however is refusing to comment on market speculation and says that as soon as a deal has been finalised, it will issue a stock market statement. The deal would make Nomura the biggest pub landlord in Britain.
The Financial Times reports that Nomura is thought to be paying more than £600m for the pubs. There had been reports that Legal & General Ventures, the other final bidder, had submitted a £620m bid but the group is believed to have withdrawn this late on Monday night.
With the Bass pubs estate, Nomura would own more than 6,000 pubs, outstripping its closest rival, Punch Taverns, the privately owned operator with about 5,000 pubs. The investment bank is expected to run the estate as a separate company. It is believed that existing management will stay on.
The newspaper reports that Nomura is likely to spend up to two years converting the estate from managed pubs into tenanted outlets, after which it is likely to securitise the income streams. This has become something of a hallmark for transactions led by the bank's principal finance team which is headed by Guy Hands.
Nomura is also bidding for Whitbread's 3,000-strong pub chain, put up for sale last month. The £1.5bn auction entered the final round of bidding yesterday, with three bidders left. The other bidders are private equity groups Cinven and Candover. Whitbread is looking for between £1.4bn and 1.6bn from the sale.