Platinum Equity may want to use Marston’s as an acquisition vehicle to buy up more pubs hurt by Covid-19
Thursday 04 Feb 2021 Author: Martin Gamble

Pubs group Marston’s (MARS) has rejected three takeover proposals from US private equity firm Platinum Equity at prices ranging between 88p and 105p per share, saying they significantly undervalue the company.

Merger and acquisition activity in the pubs sector has been steadily brewing since 2019 with the £2.7 billion acquisition of Green King by Hong Kong’s Li Ka-Shing and Stonegate Pub’s £1.3 billion purchase of Enterprise Inns.

Last year Marston’s and Carlsberg merged their UK brewing assets in a £780 million deal with Marston’s owning 40% of the combined business.

Broker Numis says a change of control clause would allow Carlsberg to buy Marston’s 40% interest at a fixed multiple of earnings in the event of a takeover. This means a financial buyer for Marston’s could potentially reduce their upfront investment, adding further leverage to the transaction.

Analysts take the view that Platinum Equity is interested in Marston’s because of the potential for a sharp bounce back in trading post Covid-19 as well as improved profitability on the back of lower promotional spending.

The US firm isn’t alone in eyeing opportunities in the hollowed-out hospitality sector. Last month the former chief of Greene King, Rooney Anand, raised £200 million to invest in pub assets.

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