Nearly one in five of Punch Taverns’ tenanted public houses is now looking for a new licensee. Some analysts are beginning to wonder whether landlords, including the big pub companies, are charging too much in rent. A research note from Morgan Stanley says the leased-pub business model is “being sorely tested”. Punch has 7,560 leased pubs spread across the country. But almost 1,400 of them are looking for new tenants. West Yorkshire is the worst hit area. Just over 1,000 are being offered by Punch. The remainder are tenants who are looking to pass their leases to new licensees. According to Punch, only 220 of its houses are closed and chief executive Giles Thorley dismissed fears that there could be difficulty in finding new tenants. He also denied that the company would struggle to find the cash necessary to redeem a £295m convertible bond due by December 2010. But investors don’t share his confidence. Shares have fallen by 83.5% over the last year and closed on Friday at 162.25p, making the company worth £432.5m. Last October Punch was worth almost £3bn. The Sunday Times 28/09/08 (Business) page 3.1