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Hugh Osmond returning to the market

THE founder of pub chain Punch Taverns is returning to the market to raise up to £500m for an investment vehicle aimed at buying distressed companies and funds.

Hugh Osmond, who also floated Pizza Express, is joining other City heavyweights to launch Horizon, which will try to raise the cash via a public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

Osmond and his partners said Horizon intends to buy and cut the debt of a UK business worth
between £1bn-£3bn, but held back by lack of cash, Horizon said.

Michael Fairey, the deputy chief executive of Lloyds TSB until June 2008, will be Horizon’s chairman.

Other non-executive directors will include British Airways director and former deputy chairman of the Monopolies & Mergers Commission Baroness Denise Kingsmill and Terry Eccles, former vice chairman of JP Morgan Cazenove. Credit Suisse will be bookrunner of the listing and Numis Securities will be co-lead manager.

Osmond said the financial crisis had left many companies needing new capital. “For the company we acquire, it means release from a straightjacket,” he said.