The billionaire majority owner of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has given up his pursuit of Birmingham pub firm Mitchells & Butlers.
Joe Lewis’s company Piedmont, which owns a majority 23 per cent stake in Fleet Street-based Harvester and All Bar One owner M&B, said it had decided not to proceed with an offer after two possible bids were refused.
M&B, which also owns Toby Carvery and O’Neills, rejected an initial offer of 224p a share and said it would not consider a 230p approach either. The latter valued the company at around £940 million.
M&B’s shares fell nine per cent after the announcement and have lost 35 per cent of their value since the start of the year, giving the company a market value of £900 million.
Bahamas-based Mr Lewis, who was born above a pub in the East End of London, bought his M&B shares in October 2008 for about 130p from property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.
Since then Mr Lewis, who had until October 17 to table a firm offer, has overseen a boardroom coup at M&B following last year’s removal of three board members, including chairman Simon Laffin.
The company is currently being run by an interim chief executive and chairman after Simon Burke resigned as chairman in July and chief executive Adam Fowle announced his shock departure in March.
Speculation that Mr Lewis, who made his fortune through currency trading, was planning to give up his pursuit of M&B began on Friday, when his yacht, Aviva, left its berth near Tower Bridge, in London.
M&B rejected the possible offer proposed by Piedmont because it “significantly undervalued” the business.
Interim Chairman, Bob Ivell, said: “The independent directors have been consistent in their view that an offer of 230p would substantially undervalue the company. We will continue to focus on our growth strategy for developing Mitchells & Butlers further as the UK’s leading operator of restaurants and managed pubs creating value for all shareholders.”
However, the company’s recent performance has been quite weak, with like-for-like sales slowing to 0.5 per cent in the nine weeks to September 17 from 2.8 per cent during the summer.
Food sales growth slowed to 1.1 per cent, lower than the rate of 4.9 per cent for the 51 weeks of the financial year to date, despite an increase in promotional activity.