May Capital, the private equity group led by Noah Bulkin, the former investment banker, has become the latest group linked with the possible acquisition of the c300-strong tenanted pub portfolio placed on the market by Greene King early last year.
According to The Times, May Capital is believed to have spent much of the past few weeks trying to agree terms on the purchase of the package for an estimated £85m and a separate group of at least 50 pubs from the ashes of Robert Tchenguiz’s R&L Properties vehicle.
The newspaper suggests that the R&L deal may have fallen over, while the negotiations with Greene King are rumoured to be hanging by a thread.
The Rooney Anand-led group had previously held advanced talks to sell the 300 pubs to Cerberus Capital Management, the owner of Admiral Taverns, and, more recently, the Pears property family.
The Pears Group, which entered talks over the portfolio earlier this summer, is understood to have backed out of the deal over price expectations.
Greene King placed the portfolio, entitled Project Lake, on the market through PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) at the start of 2013.
The move is part of Greene King’s long-term strategy of expanding its managed estate to around 1,100 and cutting back its c1,250-strong tenanted estate.
On the Pears speculation, Anand told M&C Report: “We had an expression of interest from a party which enabled us to get to our [disposals] target faster than we might have anticipated.” He said the deal was “not consummated unfortunately”. Anand stressed: “Our reason for selling the tenanted pubs is not around the balance sheet or cashflow need. It’s about strategically shaping the business for the future and recycling parcels from tenanted disposals.”