14 June 2009 – The Sunday Times
THE troubled operator of the Living Room, a favourite watering hole of footballers where Manchester United’s Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs celebrated winning the Premier League, has received a £48m takeover bid from the Reuben brothers.
The investors, whose other interests include Northern Racing, the racecourse operator, have tabled the offer for Premium Bars and Restaurants (PBR) in the past few days.
It is believed that under the plan, the AIM-listed business would agree to a pre-pack administration to shed some of its leases and other liabilities. The brothers, who hold a 32.5% stake in PBR, would then buy back all of its freehold assets and most of its leasehold ones.
The company, which also owns the Prohibition bar chain, asked for its shares to be suspended in December.
The brothers are thought to have secured the backing of several big shareholders in PBR for the offer, which includes £18m of cash. Existing investors, including institutions such as Gartmore, have been offered the chance to invest in the deal.
The bid would require the company’s banks to roll over £30m of debt and agree to “reasonable” financial covenants, City sources said.
It is understood the Reubens’ bid is the highest so far, trumping a £45m offer from PBR’s management team. But if the Reubens are successful, it is expected they would try to retain some senior members of the management.
Speculation has been rife that they had agreed to back that £45m offer but now it is understood they have decided to mount their own bid. To succeed, they would need approval from the PBR board and BDO Stoy Hayward, the accountant advising the company.
PBR had previously attracted takeover interest from Mark Jones, its former chairman, backed by private equity and Ladhar Leisure, a bar and lap-dancing operator.
PBR has a portfolio of more than 50 bars, restaurants and clubs in the UK.