Nomura plans shake-up of Inntrepreneur pubs

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The Independent Online
Nomura, the Japanese bank which recently became the largest pub owner in the country with the acquisition of Inntrepreneur, is poised to launch an overhaul of its public house estate.

Nomura is already planning to streamline its estate by getting rid of some of its worst-performing pubs, and industry sources believe it will go further and initiate a far-reaching disposal programme.

One City observer said: "It is looking to restructure its estate and is likely to sell a large number of pubs ... perhaps as many as 1,000."

Nomura is also eyeing up more acquisitions to add to its 4,400-strong tied estate. The bank was interested in swapping some of its pubs for a large chunk of Bass's tenanted pub business. It lost out in that deal to Hugh Osmond and Roger Myers, the restaurant entrepreneurs.

However, Nomura could now turn its attention to other brewers such as Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) and Whitbread, which are understood to have put some of their own tenanted estates on the market.

Nomura became the biggest pub landlord in the country when it announced the acquisition of Inntrepreneur and Spring Inns for pounds 1.2bn in September.

The deal is due to be completed by April, after which Nomura is likely to combine the two estates to create a huge new pub chain.

Nomura is also close to negotiating a new beer supply agreement to replace its existing contract with S&N. It is likely to strike a deal with all the major brewers under which landlords will be able to order whichever beers they want from a given price list.

Analysts believe S&N will have to offer much larger discounts per barrel but should be able to retain a significant amount of business from existing landlords used to serving its beers.

However, Nomura has inherited a legal threat from hundreds of Inntrepreneur tenants who are attempting to sue the pub company for the imposition of unfair tie agreements, which allegedly committed them to paying too much for beer in the past. The legal battle is likely to intensify next year when several test cases come to court.