Marston and Nomura discuss pounds 100m pub deal

MARSTON THOMPSON & Evershed, the West Midland brewer and pub operator, is in talks with Nomura International over the possible securitisation of its tenanted pub estate. The deal would cover 631 pubs and raise around pounds 100m for Marston.

The refinancing would see the Japanese bank act as "agent" in the transaction. This would mean that, unlike previous securitisation deals undertaken by Nomura, the bank would not buy the pubs itself but simply arrange the re-financing in return for a fee. It would use the pubs' cashflow, which would principally be their rental agreements with tenants, to back bonds which would be sold on to institutional investors.

However, it is understood that one option being considered is the creation of a separate company for the tenanted pubs in which Marston, Nomura and other financial investors would all have stakes.

Nomura's principal finance group has pulled off a string of securitisation deals in the last few years where it has used its own capital to buy assets which have later been securitised. But it has recently set up a new agency division to balance the principal finance group's activities.

Marston has been keen to concentrate on its 269 managed outlets, which include the Pitcher & Piano bars acquired for pounds 20m two years ago. There has been speculation that Marston might sell its tenanted estate because it offers lower returns. Nick Letchet, Marston's new managing director who joined the group from Bass, has been keen to develop the branded portfolio.

Vaux, the north-eastern brewer, is understood to have considered securitising its pub estate. Pubmaster, created from the Brent Walker group, considered the securitisation route but decided against it.

Nomura has yet to complete the due diligence on the Marston estate. The brewer was forced to issue a statement clarifying its intentions after its share rose sharply in early trading yesterday. The shares closed 15.5p higher at 224p.

Nomura has pulled off more than pounds 8bn of securitisation deals in the last few years including Angel Trains, Inntrepreneur Pubs and Ministry of Defence homes.