Bottom Line: The pub group’s grim warnings failed to land a knockout blow

Marc Sidwell
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THAT’S not the way to do it. Punch Taverns was well aware of the problem some of its lenders had with its restructuring plan as set out in December last year. Yesterday, it tried to bludgeon the opposition, announcing proposals it called final, the result of 14 months of engagement. Setting out certain concessions, it then claimed failure to rubber stamp this version would lead to a rapid and costly default.

The Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) noteholder committee, which has blocking stakes in both Punch securitisations, didn’t applaud. Instead it said it had enjoyed “limited interaction” with the company since December and had not seen this proposal in advance. It is still reviewing the proposed terms but it wasn’t exactly a rave review.

Given Punch needs the ABI to avoid default, perhaps presenting it with a public ultimatum wasn’t the best plan. With both sides now locked in a battle of wills, Britain’s second biggest pub group looks to be drinking in the last chance saloon.

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