Punch Taverns has seen one of its larger shareholders pull out the company. US private equity company Texas Pacific announced yesterday that it was selling its 21.8% stake in the British pub operator. No reason for the sale was given.

Shares in the company set a record high on Tuesday of 435 pence. Following the announcement, the shares fell back to 412.5p per share. When the group floated in May 2002, the share price was set at 230p.

Texas Pacific has sold its stake of just over 54 million shares to institutional investors.

Last month Punch acquired one of its rivals, Pubmaster, for £1.2 billion, making it the UK's biggest pubs operator. The company also posted a forecast-beating rise in annual profit.