British Land eyes Inntrepreneur pubs

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The Independent Online
BRITISH Land yesterday confirmed that it was considering making a bid for Inntrepreneur Estates, the 320-pub portfolio owned jointly by Grand Metropolitan and Courage. The rumoured offer price is pounds 180m.

But John Weston Smith, a director at British Land, warned that it was some way from deciding whether to make an offer for the pubs. 'We are always looking at deals like this and probably have a hit rate of no more than one in ten', he said.

Although such a move would be unusual for British Land, which has in the past stuck to mainstream property assets such as office buildings, analysts believe it would provide a high-yielding investment well suited to the company's skills in intensive management.

Mr Weston Smith would not say whether the acquisition, if it went ahead, would be for British Land itself or for the Quantum joint venture with the Wall Street financier George Soros, which has spent pounds 600m of a planned pounds 1bn investment in British property.

The Inntrepreneur pubs are occupied by Chef & Brewer, a subsidiary of Scottish & Newcastle, which is understood to have looked at buying the freeholds.

Mr Weston Smith also confirmed yesterday that British Land was one of three potential bidders for Stanhope, the troubled property company that owns half the Broadgate office development in the City of London.

British Land has said for some months that it is keen to add Broadgate to its own portfolio. It acquired a 29.9 per cent stake in Stanhope in February.