Private equity big hitters vie for Whitbread

Candover, Schroder Ventures, Cinven and Nomura are still in the running for the 3,000-strong pub estate.

The race to acquire Whitbread’s 3000-strong pubs estate has picked up speed with four leading financial buyers taking part in a second round of bidding late last week, according to the Financial Times.

The four remaining bidders are Schroder Ventures, Cinven, Nomura and Candover, with only the latter two firms bidding for the whole estate.

Whitbread is hoping to make between £1.4bn and 1.6bn from the sale and will focus on its restaurants and leisure businesses.

Nomura, already the UK's largest pub landlord, is also looking at the Bass pubs estate that is currently being auctioned. The bank is racing against Legal and General Ventures, which last weekend made a £620m bid for about 1,000 of the Bass pubs. Nomura is playing its hand close to its chest, not having put a final offer on the table. An announcement could be made as part of tomorrow's planned trading statement from Bass.