Greene King’s gearing will rise to 150%-170% following its acquisition of 432 neighbourhood pubs from Laurel Pub Company for £654m pus £30m costs on Friday. The deal makes the Suffolk-based business the UK’s biggest traditional brewer and pub company with 2,100 houses stretching from Torquay to Aberdeen. The Lex Column, in the Financial Times, says the deal should deliver returns in the first year close to the company’s estimate of its post-acquisition cost of capital of 6.3%. Arbuthnot Securities put its initial estimate of earnings enhancements in the regions of 10%. Investec put the figure at 15%. The shares closed up 12.7% at £11.22. Financial Times (Money & Business) 10/07/04 page 18 (Lex), page 2 (Money & Business – main story & Lombard), page 22 (Stars & Dogs) The Times 10/07/04 page 54, page 55 (Need to know) The Daily Telegraph 10/07/04 page 31