The Dublin-headquartered group yesterday confirmed its preliminary approach, without disclosing the details, but said there was no certainty that it would make a firm offer.
However, Spirit — which is also being courted by rival UK pub and brewing business, Greene King — stated that it had reviewed the C&C proposal and rejected it. The move sent C&C’s share price plummeting by nearly 12%.
According to reports, Greene King has offered Spirit a cash and share deal valued at 109.5p per share/£723m, with C&C offering 115p per share; but it is thought the proposed Irish bid is actually more in line with the Greene King offer.
Yesterday’s developments seemingly put Greene King in pole position to land Spirit, and create what would be the largest managed pub group in Britain, but under UK takeover rules, C&C still has until close of business on November 20 to make a firm offer for the business.
According to reports in the British press, Spirit’s board has questioned what synergies could be sought through a deal with C&C, which currently owns no pubs. Burton-upon-Trent-based Spirit — which demerged from Punch Taverns three years ago — owns around 1,200 pubs dotted across Britain. Some of these were previously owned by Scottish & Newcastle prior to its carveßup and the taking over of its UK assets by Heineken in 2008. C&C’s current management would have some prior knowledge of such assets, having previously worked for S&N.