News that Stonegate has bought Ei Group for £1.27bn has come as a shock to many, including here at Inapub. What are we to make of it?
When I first heard the news this morning, I thought I had missed something. I trawled through the old memory bank for the last conversation I'd had with chief exec Simon Townsend, at the Ei Group Awards a few weeks back.
Did he say something that I didn't give full credence to? Did I overlook something? Were there any hints at all about this?
There are other industry movers and shakers I bump into at events all the time – did my newshound's nose fail me then as well?
I don't think so – maybe I'm just a rubbish journalist but I'm not the only one to whom this has come as a surprise. I have it on good authority that even key members of Ei HQ weren't made aware of this until lunchtime yesterday – mere hours before Bloomberg first aired rumours last night and a single (sleepless for some, I imagine) night before the acquisition was confirmed this morning.
What we do know is that:
- Ei Group is the largest owner of pubs in the UK with over 4,000 properties across England and Wales.
- Stonegate is a managed pub company and has a national estate of over 765 operating outlets.
- Ei Group has accepted a 285p per share offer from Stonegate Pub Company.
- The deal will make Stonegate the UK's biggest PubCo
- Both companies believe the combination has the potential to deliver benefits to customers, tenants, employees and other stakeholders.
In a statement Stonegate said it looks, "forward to working with those tenants and partners to continue the successful development of the EIG estate. Stonegate expects to continue to invest in the estate and ensure that the rights of tenants and partners are fully safeguarded and that tenants have the necessary support to provide the best possible consumer proposition to customers."
Details of the deal are to be ironed out, it seems and it would take a far better journalist and industry watcher than me to tell you what the amalgamated company will look like, what it all means for Ei licensees or how it will affect the wider pub market.
But it doesn't take a better journalist than me to tell you how massive this news is for the industry and rest assured we'll be bringing you insight and analysis from the experts in due course, so keep an eye on our website and social media channels.