Welsh brewer Brains offloads 100 pubs for a Song in latest industry deal

January 14, 2022

SA Brain, one of Wales's most prominent brewers, is to sell the freeholds to scores of its pubs to a consortium that includes a global private equity powerhouse - the latest in a string of significant deals in the sector.

Sky News has learnt that Brains is close to agreeing a deal to offload approximately 100 Welsh pubs to Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, the former owner of Admiral Taverns.

Pub industry sources said on Friday that a transaction could be signed in the coming days.

Song Capital was established by Daniel MacKinnon and Tom Pritchard, two real estate executives.

Mr MacKinnon previously worked with Alan McIntosh, the founder of Punch Taverns, while Song Capital's other partners include Neil Hyman, a former Slaughter & May partner, and Glyn Barker, chairman of Berkeley Group, the FTSE-100 housebuilder.

The transaction, which is thought to be valued in the region of £100m, will generate substantial proceeds for Brains' family shareholders, with the funds expected to be used to pay down debt.

In December 2020, Brains struck a deal with Marston's, the London-listed pub group, to operate 141 of its pubs under the Welsh brewer's brand as it wrestled with the financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pub freeholds being acquired by Song Capital and Cerberus are understood to represent the core of the Brains pub estate, leaving the company as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio.

Brains is one of Wales's best-known companies, having sponsored the country's rugby union team for several years.

Avison Young, the real estate advisory firm, is understood to have been running the sale process.

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If completed, it will be the latest notable deal in a pubs industry which has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Punch Pubs confirmed a Sky News report that it was being acquired by Fortress Investment Group, with the price understood to have been close to £1bn.

Neither Cerberus nor Song responded to requests for comment on Friday, while Brains could not be reached for comment.

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