W&D to launch £100m buy-back

The brewer is to start buying its own shares by the end of the year to fend off hostile Pubmaster.

Wolverhampton and Dudley, Britain’s largest regional brewer which has been under siege from hostile suitors for over a year, announced today it was going to start a tender to buy back £100m of its own shares by the end of the year.

The move is part of a plan designed to defeat Pubmaster, the UK pub group which has a £453m hostile bid on the table. W&D also said it expected total proceeds of £135m from selling 170 of its pubs. 112 of these were already under offer, the group said.

Barclays Capital would underwrite the buyback programme, W&D said.

Pubmaster, which is partly owned by WestLB, the German bank, has until next week to increase its 480p per share offer, for which it has won less than four per cent of shareholders’ support so far.

The tow rivals are locked in a courtroom battle over allegations made by W&D that Pubmaster is guilty of passing to competitors highly detailed information about the brewer’s brands, production and distribution costs and marleting plans. Pubmaster denies this, saying it only shared basic information with third parties.