After more than two years of negotiations, Punch Taverns is entering a new phase after finally completing the restructure of its £2.4bn debt.

It came after the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) yesterday followed Lloyds in approving the proposal. The main barriers were crossed last month, however, when noteholders and shareholders gave their approval.

Stephen Billingham, executive chairman of Punch, said: “I am pleased to announce the completion today of our restructuring, bringing to an end the long and complex restructuring process. We believe that this restructuring will provide stability to the business and will allow Punch to build on recent improvements in trading and lead to further deleveraging, through strong cash generation.

“We can now focus on improving our business through capital investment in our pubs, getting the best partners working with us and providing the support our partners need to launch and develop their pub businesses. We have good operational plans to build on the positive momentum delivered in 2014 and will provide a further update when we announce our annual results on 12 November 2014.”

Billingham told M&C Report that the search for a new chief executive would begin “very shortly” following the restructure, as he moves to a non-executive chairman position.

Internal candidates would be considered he said, with current chief operating officer Neil Griffiths a “strong candidate”.

Billingham said he’d be looking for “evolution rather than revolution” under the new CEO. “The business is, trading wise, in particularly good shape, so we’d give somebody a good platform. But we also want to make sure we make the right choice. We don’t want to bring in somebody who’s going to try and reinvent what we do.”

Billingham said he expected it to be “business as usual” after the restructure. “We will carry on doing the same things. We will carry on investing in the 3,000 core pubs, we will carrying on selling the non-core pubs. There will not be a dramatic change of tact for Punch.”

The terms of the proposals will see a debt for equity swap resulting in a 15% equity dilution for existing shareholders. Punch’s debt will fall by £600m to £1.8bn. Under the proposals, which will include a £50m share placing, the biggest shareholders will be Glenview Capital Management (22.2%) and Luxor Capital Group (15.3%). Under a share consolidation, investors will receive one new share for every 20 that they hold at the moment.

The restructure negotiations had been fraught at times, with a committee representing bondholders under the auspices of the Association of British Insurers noting their opposition and earlier this year refusing to agree to the terms.