UK pub group and brewer Greene King has agreed a £2.7billion sale to a Hong Kong real estate giant.
CK Asset Holdings Ltd, founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, today agreed to buy pub operator Greene King Plc for 850 pence per share.
And shares in the brewer and pub group have surged after agreeing to the deal.
The Suffolk-based business is the UK’s biggest pub owner, with roughly 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the country.
The deal offered a 51 per cent premium on the value of shares in the brewer, which employs more than 38,000 staff, from last Friday.
CK Asset Holdings Ltd, founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing, today agreed to buy pub operator Greene King Plc. Popularity Greene King IPA increased by 1,600 per cent in China in 2015 after President Xi Jinping was pictured sharing a pint with David Cameron
Greene King’s deal comes just seven months after fellow UK pub group Fuller’s sold its brewing business to Japanese firm Asahi.
CKA said it was particularly attracted to Greene King because of its ‘established position in the UK pub and brewing market, freehold and long leasehold property estate, and resilient financial profile’.
The company’s beer, Greene King IPA, increased in popularity by 1,600 per cent in China in 2015 after President Xi Jinping was pictured sharing a pint with former prime minister David Cameron.
Cameron had invited Jinping along for a drink at his local pub, The Plough at Cadsden pub in Buckinghamshire, and days later Chinese sales of the beer went through the roof.
The country became so enamoured with the pub that Chinese investors eventually bought it for an undisclosed sum and it became a tourist attraction.
Beijing-based businessman Peter Bloxham, whose company transported Greene King IPA into the country, told the Guardian in 2015: ‘It has just gone berserk. It’s unbelievable.
‘Within two days of the great bar scene … people from all over China were ringing: agents, restaurants, bars, hotels. They wanted this beer.’
The deal offered a 51 per cent premium on the value of shares in the brewer, which employs more than 38,000 staff, from last Friday
The pub trip was used by Communist party spin doctors to make Jinping seem more approachable and like a man of the people.
Just one month after the trip Greene King shipped 50,000 cases of its IPA to China in December 2015 to keep up with the demand.
Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: ‘Greene King has a well-invested estate in prime locations, leading brands, a rich history and a talented team of around 38,000 people serving millions of customers across the country every week.
‘CKA is an experienced UK investor and shares many of Greene King’s business philosophies.
‘They understand the strengths of our business and we welcome their commitment to working with the existing management team, evolving the strategy and investing in the business to ensure its continued long-term growth.’
George Magnus, economist at CK Bidco, said: ‘CKA’s strategy is to look for businesses with stable and resilient characteristics and strong cash flow generating capabilities.
‘The UK pub and brewing sector shares these characteristics and we believe that this sector will continue to be an important part of British culture and the eating and drinking-out market in the long run.
‘Greene King, being a leading integrated pub retailer and brewer with strong real estate backing, is well positioned to capture the opportunities that lie ahead.’