Greene King snaps up Magic

Michael Cannon has made a fortune for the second time in three years by selling his Magic Pub chain to Greene King for nearly pounds 200m.

The deal, which Greene King will partly finance through a pounds 90m rights issue, will more than double the East Anglian brewers' managed house estate to 462 out of a total of 1,139 pubs.

Mr Cannon, chairman of Magic Pub, is understood to have made about pounds 70m from the deal. Managing director Philip Snook, finance director Tom Gill and the senior management team, who together owned 10 per cent of the company, also made a susbtantial amount, while much of the rest went to institutional investors led by CINVen.

Now in his mid-50s, Mr Cannon began in the leisure business as a Berni Inn chef and opened his first pub about 20 years ago in Bristol. An early venture, Cannon Inns, collapsed, but he later merged his other leisure interests into West Country pub chain Devenish.

Having fought off brewer Boddingtons in a bitter bid battle, he then sold Devenish to the pubs, drinks and hotel operator, Greenalls, in 1993 for more than pounds 200m. His share of that was about pounds 25m, of which about half was invested in Magic Pub. He has acquired a reputation as a low- cost renovator of pubs.

Mr Cannon was not available for comment yesterday, but said in a statement: "The business fits very well with Greene King and I am sure that this deal will take it a long way."

Magic Pub is centred on London and the South and operates in three divisions. The main pubs operation has 209 outlets, of which 200 are managed. They are free houses, but have arrangements with suppliers. In addition, 47 pub restaurants are grouped under the Hungry Horse name, while 21 hotels and inns operate as Countryside Inns.

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