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W&D and Pubmaster meet in court

The latest twist in the takeover battle for Britain’s largest regional brewer sees the hostile parties face each other in court.

Wolverhampton & Dudley (W&D) is suing Pubmaster, the West LB-backed pubs group behind a £453m hostile bid for UK’s largest brewer.

W&D claims Pubmaster is guilty of breaching a confidentiality agreement relating to information about its brewery business.

Pubmaster, which strongly denies the allegations, is currently in talks with potential suitors to sell on W&D’s four breweries once a takeover has been completed.

Specifically W&D says Pubmaster has disclosed confidential details to at least two of its competitors, Bass and Carlsberg-Tetley, thereby causing potential damage to the group’s competitive trading position.

Pubmaster maintains it merely shared “basic” information. In a statement, Pubmaster said it had kept W&D “fully informed” of the parties which it had talked to, adding W&D’s claims were a “smokescreen to cover up the lack of a credible defense strategy.”

Shareholders’ response to Pubmaster’s offer has been lukewarm so far. On July 6, less then four per cent of shareholders had accepted the offer. The group has until July 30 to change to improve terms.