A&O, Slaughters scoop roles on M&B’s Whitbread pub acquisition

Slaughter and May

has shown its strength in the pub operator market, acting for Whitbread on the sale of 239 pubs to Allen & Overy (A&O) client Mitchells & Butler (M&B).

M&B has paid £497m for the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pubs in a deal hammered out in the early hours of Friday 21 July. M&B is repositioning itself towards the growing eating-out market, which is expected to grow further once the smoking ban is introduced in England and Wales.

A&O partner Susan Howard led the team that represented M&B, a client of the magic circle firm for almost 10 years. Birmingham-based Eversheds partner Iftkhar Ahmed advised M&B on the property aspects of the deal.

Howard said: “The main thing about the deal was the speed with which it was done. We had one week of exclusivity and managed to get the deal completed within that time.”

Slaughters, led by partner David Johnson, advised longstanding client Whitbread on the sale. Johnson worked closely with in-house lawyer Russell Fairhurst.

Slaughters has been involved with most of the major M&A deals in the pub sector thanks to a client list that includes Punch Taverns, which last year bought the Spirit Group. Spirit Group is also a Slaughters client.

M&B funded the cash deal with a short-term bank facility provided by Royal Bank of Scotland, advised by Clifford Chance partner David Pearson.