Punch buys bonds to cut debt

Pub group Punch Taverns yesterday said it had repurchased more than one third of its convertible bonds, reducing the amount outstanding to just over £100m. The pub owner has bought a total of 33.9 per cent of the original nominal value of the five  per cent convertible bonds due 2010. This is the latest measure by the struggling pub group to cut its overall debt from £5bn to £3.5bn by the end of 2009. Concern over whether it could pay back the bonds, which it issued in 2006 to buy Spirit Group, forced it to raise £375m in June through a placing. At the time there was £275m of debt outstanding and Punch admitted that without the share issue it may have not been able to repay the bonds.