Given its difficulties with making money from its main business, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has sold its 918-strong pub portfolio – including Guy Ritchie's Punch Bowl pub in London – to a company with a rather longer history in the drinks business.
The Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company, a subsidiary of the Dutch brewer Heineken, will pay £412m for the bank's Galaxy Pub Estate, which it has anyway been running since 1999 under a management agreement. RBS will also keep £10m of profits made by the pub business, bringing the total size of the deal to £422m.
The pubs themselves are run by individual publicans under lease deals. Publicans include Mr Ritchie, known for his former marriage to pop star Madonna and for the films he has directed. He paid £2.5m for the tenancy of the Punch Bowl along with other leisure industry figures.
Other famed pubs that are in the RBS portfolio include the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham and the Ship Tavern in Holborn.
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