M&B boss out on hedge loss

THE BOSS of Britian&rsquo;s biggest pub chain Mitchells &amp; Butlers (M&amp;B) resigned yesterday after the company revealed it would lose a further &pound;69m in a disastrous bet on interest rates and revealed a 48 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to &pound;44m for the six months to 11 April.<br /><br />Chief executive Tim Clarke, stepped down &ldquo;as a matter of principle,&rdquo; chairman Drummond Hall said, adding that he felt his position was &ldquo;untenable&rdquo; and left by &ldquo;mutual consent&rdquo;.<br /><br />The role will be filled by Adam Fowle, the chief operating officer, on a temporary basis while a full time replacement is sought. While Fowle is seen as the likeliest candidate for the permanent job, Carl Leaver, the former head of M&amp;S&rsquo;s overseas operations, who resigned from the role this week, is also being tipped by analysts as a potential candidate.<br /><br />The company has already written off &pound;274m due to the huge bets on long term interest rates and inflation. The controversial hedging arrangements were put in place in 2007 in a bid to secure the best terms for a planned &pound;4.5bn property sale and leaseback &ndash; a move led by real estate entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz who at that stage had a 25 per cent stake in the business. The financial crisis meant the project was cancelled leaving M&amp;B with huge losses.<br /><br />M&amp;B had been rumoured to be considering a rights issue to bolster its balance sheet. However, it is thought to have ruled out such a move for now.<br /><br />The group yesterday said it had seen an improving trend in recent trading with like-for-like sales up by 1.5 per cent in the 16 weeks to 16 May and market share gains.