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Fri 4th Oct 2019 - Exclusive: Fuller’s in advanced talks over £40m deal for Cotswold-based inns and hotels business
Exclusive – Fuller’s in advanced talks over £40m deal for Cotswold-based inns and hotels business: Fuller’s, the Simon Emeny-led listed group, is in advanced talks to acquire the Cotswolds Inns & Hotels business in a deal believed to be valued at circa £40m, Propel has learned. Cotswolds Inns & Hotels, which was founded in 1997 by Michael and Pamela Horton, operates seven hotels and two bars – Utopia Bar and Churchills Bar, both based in Birmingham. The hotels Fuller’s would acquire are The Bay Tree Hotel in Burford; The Bear of Rodborough Hotel, near Stroud; The Close Hotel in Tetbury; The Hare & Hounds Hotel in Westonbirt; The Lamb Inn in Burford; The Manor House Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh and The Swan Hotel in Bibury. The acquisition would boost Fuller’s bedroom stock by circa 200 rooms. The deal would represent the first acquisition by the business since it sold its brewing operation to Asahi for £250m. Early last month Fuller’s revealed plans to return £69m to shareholders following the sale of its beer business to Asahi and reported a “good start” to trading in its new financial year, with like-for-like sales in managed pubs and hotels rising 2.5%. It’s thought Knight Frank and Christie & Co have advised on the Cotswolds Inns & Hotels deal. Last year, Cotswolds Inns & Hotels sold The George in Cheltenham to Superdry owner Julian Dunkerton, who operates the Lucky Onion group of properties. The George was put on the market for £3.6m in 2017. Fuller’s declined to comment. 

PizzaExpress hires advisers ahead of debt talks: PizzaExpress, the Hony Capital-backed chain, has hired adviser Houlihan Lokey as it prepares for debt talks with its creditors, according to Bloomberg. The report stated that separately, a group of secured bondholders has started working with Perella Weinberg Partners after appointing law firm Latham & Watkins in July. The restaurant group has £465m of secured bonds due in August 2021 and £200m of unsecured notes due a year later, respectively indicated at 84p and 23p on the pound, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Earlier this summer, it was thought PizzaExpress and its backer, the China-based Hony, were reviewing its capital structure and a restructuring of the business was likely. In August, PizzaExpress reported a “resilient performance” in the UK and Ireland for the 26 weeks ending 30 June 2019, while its international business continued to expand. Underlying like-for-like sales in the UK and Ireland were down 0.2%, with sales up 0.5%. A net two sites opened in the period. Total group sales increased 2.6% with like-for-like sales up 0.2%. The company’s focus is on upgrading existing sites rather than new openings in the UK, with further development of the “Future Express” programme.

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