Cerberus buys Admiral Taverns for $323 million

LONDON Fri Jan 4, 2013 4:34pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is to buy British pub group Admiral Taverns from part state-owned Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L), which is shedding non-core businesses.

While terms were not disclosed, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday the deal had an enterprise value - debt plus equity - of 200 million pounds ($323 million).

The debt portion was around 150 million pounds, with Cerberus providing 50 million cash, the people said.

Lloyds took control of Admiral, which operates 1,100 pubs, as part of a restructuring in 2009 involving a debt-for-equity swap after the firm was swamped with 900 million pounds debt.

Like many British pub groups, Admiral was hit by the country's moves into recession, with a smoking ban not helping.

Admiral reported 27 million pounds underlying core earnings in the year to June. It hopes to sell around 100 underperforming pubs to boost profit.

Cerberus will retain the existing senior management team.

"Admiral's business provides an ideal platform for the acquisition of additional tenanted pubs in the UK," Lee Millstein, senior managing director at Cerberus said.

Founded in 1992 by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter, New York-based Cerberus has more than $20 billion under management.

Admiral Taverns management and Lloyds were advised by PWC, while Cerberus was advised by Sapient Corporate Finance.

(Editing by Dan Lalor)

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