Joe Lewis bids for Mitchells & Butlers


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The Independent Online

The Bahamas-based billionaire Joe Lewis has confirmed plans to take over Mitchells & Butlers, the pubs group that counts him as its biggest shareholder.

Mr Lewis's Piedmont investment vehicle said last night that it had approached M&B with an offer proposal some weeks ago – but that the bid had failed to win the backing of the board. As a result, it confirmed that it is "now considering whether it will make a further offer proposal at 230p per M&B share".

The disclosure came hours after a rash of takeover rumours sent the M&B share price spiralling up to £235.6p – higher than the level mooted by Piedmont in its statement after the market closed.

Mr Lewis owns nearly 23 per cent of the business behind the Toby Carvery and Harvester chains. Like other consumer-facing businesses, Mitchells, which reported slowing sales growth and deteriorating margins in July, has seen its share price retreat as investors factor in the prospects of another slowdown, with the stock down more than 14 per cent since the beginning of August alone.

Its woes have been compounded by a series of management changes that have resulted in the company seeing six chairmen in the past two years. In March, it also announced the departure of the then chief executive, Adam Fowle, after only two years in the role. The business, which also owns the All Bar One chain, is currently headed by the interim chief executive Jeremy Blood, with Bob Ivell acting as the interim non-executive chairman.

Last year, Mr Lewis, backed by the 20-per-cent shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus, led a boardroom coup that saw the removal of the pub group's then chairman, Drummond Hall, and the appointment of four new directors to the board.