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Admiral wants to toast £250m takeover of rival Hawthorn

Admiral Taverns, one of Britain’s biggest privately-owned pub groups, is plotting a takeover of rival Hawthorn Leisure that would nearly double the number of sites in its portfolio.

Sky News has learnt that Admiral is among several parties expected to table offers for Hawthorn Leisure ahead of a deadline on Friday.

Hawthorn, which is owned by the publicly traded property group NewRiver and comprises just under 700 pubs, is being earmarked for a sale or separate stock market listing in the coming months.

Bar staff pour drinks at the reopening of the Figure of Eight pub, in Birmingham, as England takes another step back towards normality with the further easing of lockdown restrictions. Picture date: Monday April 12, 2021.
Image: Admiral already has about 1000 venues. File pic

Analysts cited groups such as Punch Taverns or private equity firms including Platinum Equity – which recently approached Marston’s about a takeover – as among other possible suitors for Hawthorn.

A deal is expected to value Hawthorn at between £200m and £250m.

Admiral trades from about 1000 venues and describes itself as the UK’s “leading community pub company”.

It is owned by C&C Group, the owner of Magners cider, and Proprium Capital Partners.

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Industry sources said its estate would be complemented by that of Hawthorn, making it a strong contender to strike a deal.

A person close to Admiral said it had taken “a highly supportive approach to their tenants during the last year, having been one of the only pub companies to suspend rent at the start of the pandemic”.

Admiral declined to comment on Friday, while a NewRiver has been contacted for comment.