Linklaters celebrates £1bn pub chain buy

Linklaters and Travers Smith Braithwaite are dining out on the £1bn sale of Greenalls' pub and restaurant division to Scottish & Newcastle.

The £1.135bn transaction was completed last week and involved the sale of 531 managed pubs, including the Squares chain, 234 pub restaurants and 61 budget lodges.

A further 19 development sites were also included under the terms of the deal.

Linklaters acted for Scottish & Newcastle with Anthony Cann, head of the firm's corporate department, heading a team which included corporate partners Matthew Middleditch and Donald Williams, and commercial property partner Mark Burgess-Smith.

Scottish & Newcastle's head of legal Andrew Vellani coordinated the deal, which has taken around two months to complete, with company secretary Peter Kennerley.

Vellani says Scottish & Newcastle has been considering the deal for a while and the team at Linklaters has been instructed on it before.

He also speculates that the current spate of brewing industry deals will continue.

“You will see further consolidation in the regional brewing industry. Scottish & Newcastle will look at any opportunity but this is a highly regulated industry so opportunities are restricted.”

Alan Keat, head of the corporate department at Travers Smith Braithwaite, advised Greenalls, supported by a team including Oliver Barnes, company law partner.

The family brewing business, based in Warrington, was forced to sell the pub and restaurant division after issuing a profit warning in July.

The deal will allow Greenalls to concentrate on its De Vere and Village Leisure hotel chains, although City-based rumours suggest that the company will not stay independent for long.

Whitbread, which recently lost out to Allied Domecq on the purchase of Punch Taverns, is thought to be a likely contender for buying the hotel chains to fit alongside its Marriott hotels.

Financing for the deal came from Scottish & Newcastle's own reserves.