Mitchells & Butlers has delayed plans to sell a raft of its pubs in the UK until current debt markets improve.

The Harvester and O'Neills owner said today (2 August) that despite having made substantial progress with the transaction, "it is now not possible to execute the joint venture due to the current disruption of the debt markets which has resulted in a significant widening of credit spreads".

The joint venture, based on the sale of a 50% stake in a GBP4.5bn (US$9.1bn) property joint venture - comprising of around 1,300 pubs and GBP240m of rent - is "unlikely to be achieved until debt markets have improved", the company said.

At the same time, in a trading update, the pub owner said that like-for-like sales in the 11-weeks to 28 July increased by 3.5% on a same outlet basis. "The first weeks of the smoking ban in England have seen minimal discernable impact on the overall sales trend, despite the sharply differing weather comparatives against last yeat," the company said.