Pubmaster and Candover to jointly bid for Whitbread

Reports suggest that the two groups have teamed up to bid against Nomura, Hugh Osmond and Luke Johnson.

UK pubs group Pubmaster has formed an alliance with Candover, the private equity firm, to bid for Whitbread’s 3,000-strong pub estate, according to the Independent newspaper.

It is believed that the Pubmaster/Candover team will bid against Hugh Osmond, chief executive of pub operator Punch Taverns, rival bidder Luke Johnson, owner of the Belgo chain of restaurants and Nomura’s Principal Finance Group. Nomura became the biggest pub landlord in the UK earlier this month, having acquired the 988-strong Bass pubs estate.

A consortium of private equity investors including WestLB’s asset securitisation and principal finance group alongside Rotch Property Group and St Modwen Properties Plc own Pubmaster. Pubmaster’s management has a shareholding in the group also.

A spokesperson for Pubmaster declined to comment on the report.