Merchant Inns remains locked in talks with potential private equity backers on an agreement that could secure the pub operator up to £150m in extra funding.
The company has been in talks with an un-named private equity backer for the past month that, if successful, would see an expansion from five to 75 food-led pubs and hotels across England.
Robert Breare, executive chairman at Merchant Inns, said there would be an announcement on the private equity discussions “shortly” as they were “progressing well” but refused to be drawn on a time-frame behind the deals completion.
Merchant Inns is seeking funds of £1.5m to £2m per site with the intention to expand the estate to anywhere between 50 and 75 sites. The backing could be worth anywhere between £75m to £150m.
Meanwhile, last week saw one of the original Merchant Inns sites, the Black Boy Inn in Milton near Banbury, re-open after extensive refurbishment.
Breare is also the executive chairman at Bank Restaurant Group, which acquired IRC – owner of the Restaurant Bar and Grill and Piccolino chains – for £14.7m in November 2006.
By Christopher Walton
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