Piedmont, the investment vehicle of Bahamas billionaire Joe Lewis, has withdrawn its interest in Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the managed pub operator. Piedmont, which currently owns a 22.8% stake in M&B, had indicated a possible bid of 230p per share and was given a ‘put up or shut up’ deadline of 17 October. In a statement, Piedmont said: “In response to the market movement in the price of M&B shares, Piedmont announced on 12 September 2011 that it had presented a proposal to the Board of M&B regarding a possible offer for the entire issued share capital of M&B. “After careful consideration, Piedmont has decided not to proceed with an offer for M&B. Piedmont will remain an active and engaged shareholder in the company.” Piedmont’s initial bid was widely seen as a move to buy M&B ‘on the cheap’. Following today's announcement, M&B's interim chairman Bob Ivell said: "The independent directors have been consistent in their view that an offer of 230p would substantially undervalue the Company. We will continue to focus on our growth strategy for developing Mitchells & Butlers further as the UK's leading operator of restaurants and managed pubs creating value for all shareholders." M&C comment by Paul Charity The decision by Joe Lewis to decide against tabling a bid for M&B will surprise many who thought an offer ahead of the 17 October deadline was a foregone conclusion. Speculation as to the reasons will be rife. Some will wonder if Lewis himself was taken aback by the ferocity of the opposition he faced - and decided to bide his time. It could be that the Elpida block, now controlling a slightly larger stake than Lewis, were simply unwilling to back the move to go private, not least because it average buy-in price was some considerable way above the suggested Lewis offer price. So it’s back to the status quo at M&B, with Lewis promising to be an active and engaged shareholder, which means, in reality, the likelihood of active use of his blocking rights over issues like asset sales. It’s all eyes now on who is selected to become the next full-time chief executive and chairman of M&B. Sources close to Lewis told me that he wanted an out-and-out operator in the job of chief executive, someone with lots of senior level experience running managed food-service outlets.