This morning’s recommended offer from Greene King to buy Capital Pub Company for 235p a share is a bit of a surprise - and a slap in the face for rival Fuller’s. It’s Greene King’s third deal of 2011 - it has already splashed out £56m buying Cloverleaf in the north-west and £53.1m acquiring London-based Realpubs. The acquisition of Capital Pub Company’s 34 pubs means that Greene King has so far added 60 pubs to its managed division this year, achieving 30% of its target to add 200 managed pubs to reach an estate size of 1,100 pubs. Crucially, a total of 48 of its acquisitions this year sit inside the London micro-market, which is outperforming the rest of the country. The agreed deal between Greene King and Capital will leave Fuller’s feeling sore - observers will wonder whether the London brewer and retailer mishandled its approach. Certainly, the atmosphere between Fuller’s and Capital turned fractious quite quickly after indicative offers of 175p and 200p a share were dismissed as inadequate by Capital. The offer by Greene King vindicates the approach taken by Capital directors. Comments by Capital chief executive Clive Watson this morning about Greene King’s reputation for nurturing businesses seems like coded criticism of Fuller’s. What is clear is that values in the London pub property market have returned to pre-crash levels - Hertford brewer McMullen’s seemed bemused that an offer in excess of £6.5m couldn’t secure the Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden (Fuller’s acquired it for a rumoured £6.9m). There is certainly a London pub freehold landgrab going on as operators position themselves ahead on next year’s Olympics, which London bar operator Novus estimates will be worth an extra £20m in sales. This is the fifth major deal secured by Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand where the creation a high quality personal relationship with the vendor seems to have counted for a lot - Loch Fyne, Belhaven, Cloverleaf and Realpubs are the others. (In the case of Belhaven, chief executive Stuart Ross decided that Greene King’s culture was a much better fit than with other interested parties after Anand established a strong bond with him on the golf course). Last week, Realpubs founders Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap told the MA250 audience of multi-site operators that there was a two-year courtship between Greene King and their company before the deal went through. Vendors also seem to appreciate Greene King’s keenness to have them carry on running their businesses for a period of a couple of years at least post-acquisition, free from interference from Bury St Edmunds. One source told Inside Track recently that Greene King has told its managed staff to stay out of Realpubs sites to preserve its employees' sense of entrepreneurial independence. The sale of Capital pubs further depletes the number of freehold-owning small managed companies operating in London - Geronimo is, of course, the third company of this type sold within the past eight months. The other obvious companies with strong freehold content are Convivial Pub Company and Faucet Inn, although a few others are starting to pick up freeholds, including ETM Group and Antic. Watch this space.