6th April 2009
The Fair Pint Campaign has revealed that it intends to use shareholder and bondholder status in Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns to press for change in the pubco model.
The group believes that there is a danger that the largest pubcos won’t be able to meet their future debt obligations as both sales and property values continue to decline.
The campaigners see no long-term value in the shares of either Punch or Enterprise, but believe that holding shares in the companies will allow them to act in the interest of both tenants and other shareholders by using ‘shop floor’ knowledge from their members in the tenanted estate to question executives.
Brian Jacobs of the Fair Pint Campaign said:
“We are talking with founding members to secure further funds to take this stage of the campaign forward. The group decided to press ahead after seeing last week’s trading statement from Enterprise Inns which we believe leaves a number of unanswered questions about trading performance and property valuations.
“Ted Tuppen, the Chief Executive of Enterprise Inns, said that trading had not materially changed. Feedback from our members in the tenanted estate leads us to believe that trading conditions have worsened significantly over recent months. It is therefore concerning that the trading statement gave no actual figures to back Mr Tuppen’s statements about performance.
“We believe there are grounds to believe that pubco estates have suffered significant falls in value. We are concerned that Enterprise’s statement said that the company had sold 150 pubs ahead of book value only to admit later that these sales were from an estate which had been written down by 29% just weeks earlier. We are concerned that Enterprise and other pubcos are not being open about the true value of their estates.
“We are taking legal advice as to how best to use shareholder and bondholder status but we certainly hope to contact other stakeholders and brokers with real trading and valuation information. There’s no market at all now for disposing of large groups of tied pubs and we hope to see a natural movement towards the sale of pub freeholds, at real prices, to the real operators – the publicans themselves.”
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