UK pubs giant Punch Taverns today poured cold water on speculation it was in talks over a £5bn (€7bn) merger deal with the owner of bar chain All Bar One.
Punch Taverns was said to have approached leading shareholders of Mitchells & Butlers about a deal to create a business with 11,000 pubs.
But following a weekend of press speculation, Punch told the stock market today that no such talks were taking place.
It said: “Punch Taverns notes the current speculation regarding Punch and Mitchells & Butlers. Punch confirms that it is not in discussions with Mitchells & Butlers or any Mitchells & Butlers shareholder regarding any offer or merger."
The reports comes after a summer’s turmoil in financial markets delayed M&B’s £4.5bn (€6bn) plans to put 1,300 of its pubs into a tax-efficient property venture with entrepreneur and major shareholder Robert Tchenguiz.
Some M&B investors are said to be keen to revive this deal as financial markets recover, although others are understood to have looked favourably on a tie-up with Punch in a bid to create returns for shareholders.
Punch, which is based in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire in England, has more than 8,400 pubs. The majority – more than 7,500 – are leased to individuals who run them as their own businesses.