Further evidence, as if any were needed.
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Justin King, chief executive of J Sainsbury, has indicated that he has not come under pressure from Delta 2, the Qatar-backed investment group, to initiate a radical overhaul of the supermarket chain’s property portfolio, reports the FT.
Delta 2 last week increased its stake in Sainsbury to 25 per cent, reigniting speculation that it could mount a full takeover bid or follow Robert Tchenguiz, the property investor who owns about 10 per cent, in calling for Sainsbury to release value to shareholders from its store estate. Read more
Mitchells & Butlers, the pub and restaurant group, could return up to £1bn to shareholders from a refinancing of its pub portfolio. The group, which owns All Bar One pubs, Harvester restaurants and Hollywood Bowl bowling alleys, confirmed on Tuesday it is exploring setting up a 50:50 joint venture on the majority of property assets, with activist shareholder Robert Tchenguiz as the likely partner. Tim Clarke, chief executive, said the bidding process was competitive and that there was no certainty that any transaction with R20, the investment vehicle of Mr Tchenguiz, would proceed.
Mitchells & Butlers is in discussions with Robert Tchenguiz, the property investor, over a joint venture for its property assets, valuing them at £4.5bn, after coming under pressure to unlock the worth of its holdings. The pub company, which owns All Bar One pubs, Harvester restaurants and Hollywood Bowl bowling alleys, said yesterday a number of third parties had been approached but that negotiations were proceeding with R20, the investment vehicle of Mr Tchenguiz. Further details of the rationale behind the deal are expected to be revealed along with M&B’s interim results on Tuesday, although a full announcement is likely to take longer.
Whitbread is adding £400m of debt to its balance sheet, which it will use to return money to shareholders, reduce pension deficits and make acquisitions. The hotel and leisure group announced the decision following a review of its capital structure and a revaluation of its property portfolio, which has nearly doubled in value over eight years to £3.6bn. The news came with annual results showing a quadrupling in pre-tax profits from £92.3m to £375.2m, at the top end of market expectations. Alan Parker, chief executive, said the group was still evaluating bids for its David Lloyd chain of leisure clubs. Given the interest of groups such as Cinven, Starwood Capital and Robert Tchenguiz’s R20 in Whitbread’s portfolio, all eyes are on the possible David Lloyd disposal, which is likely to be the next catalyst for share price growth, the FT notes.
Whitbread confirmed yesterday that it was in early talks about a possible sale of its David Lloyd Leisure business. It would not say who had approached it, but one name in the frame is Scott Lloyd, who runs Next Generation fitness clubs and is the son of the fitness chain’s founder. Several groups have been linked to an approach to Whitbread in recent months, including Cinven, CVC, UBS, the Reuben brothers, Robert Tchenguiz’s R20, Starwood Capital and Apax. The Whitbread board said it was evaluating a number of unsolicited approaches to acquire David Lloyd but made it clear no decision to sell had been made.