28 August 2004 – The Times
The Reuben Brothers, the billionaire private investors, are believed to have agreed an estimated £400 million deal to buy the Wellington Pub Company from Hugh Osmond, the pizza and pub entrepeneur, The Times has learnt.
Simon and David Reuben who have built up a personal fortune of more than £2 billion, are thought to have fough off competition from Trevor Hemmings, the leisure entrepeneur who owns Blackpool Tower and the Pontin’s holiday camp chain, and Robert Tchenguiz, the multimillionaire Iranian property tycoon.
The sale is expected to net Mr Osmond and his backers more than £100 million in profit.
In June The Times revealed that Hugh Osmond was set to profit after hiring NM Rothschild as afviser to a possible sale of Wellington. Mr Osmond has already built u[ an estimated £180 million fortune from his involvement in companies such as Pizza Express and Punch Taverns.
Mr Osmond bought the Wellington pub portfolio from Moumra International for £210 million in 1997 in partnership with Roger Myers, the founder of Café Rouge, and Alan McIntosh, with whom he made an abortive £7 billion bid for Six Continents in 2003.
Mr Osmond’s Sun Capital appointed NM Rothschild to advise on a possible sale of the company in June after receiving a number of unsolicited offers for the company. Wellington owns about 840 tenanted pubs, most of which are in the southeast of England.
In March 1998 Wellington was the subject of a £230 million securitisation, although it has since paid off some highyielding bonds, leaving it with current debts of about £200 million.
The portfolio is believed to have average unexpired leases of 11 years, which generate a 7 per cent initial yield.
The transaction is the latest in a string of high profile transactions for the Reuben brothers, who earlier this year injected £250 million into Elliott Bernard’s £2 billion buyout of Chelsfield, the property company which owns the Wentworth Golf Club.
The brothers also own the Millbank Tower, the former headquarters of the Labour Party.
Mr Osmond, a medic-turned-financier, made his first £20 million in the restaurant trade, after taking over Pizza Express with Luke Johnson.
The Reuben brothers could not be reached for comment. NM Rothchild and Mr Osmond declined to comment.