Wolves toasts £90m Wizard deal

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Wolverhampton & Dudley, Britain's biggest regional brewer, yesterday beat off competition from privately owned pub company Laurel to snap up Wizard Inns for £90m.

The brewer of Pedigree, Banks's and Mansfield beers said it would continue to look for acquisitions, but declined to comment on whether it was interested in Deutsche Bank's 432 pubs, which are managed by Laurel and were put up for sale last month. "As far as further activity is concerned we would remain interested in the process of consolidation, which is going on in the pub sector," Ralph Findlay, chief executive of W&D, said.

Wizard contains the last of the Nomura pub empire built up in the late 1990s by entrepreneur Guy Hands to more than 5,500 pubs. Most of Wizard's pubs are in London the South-east and includes the Fire Station bar near London's Waterloo station.

W&D has more than 1,600 pubs. Its estate also owns the Pitcher & Piano high street chain, which has outlets in many major cities.

The Laurel Pub Company, owned by Deutsche Bank's private equity arm, is currently auctioning off about 432 pubs for around £450m.