Marston's has injected a dash of optimism into the UK beer and pub sector by confirming an extension to its bank facility.

Marston's said today (13 January) that it has sealed a three-year extension to its bank facility with core lenders.

Under the terms of the deal, the facility will reduce from GBP400m to GBP295m from August 2010. Marston's had used GBP240m of its facility in October 2008, it said.

Confirmation of the deal offers a degree of optimism to the under-pressure UK beer and pub sector, although the agreement was foreshadowed by news that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has downgraded Punch Taverns, the UK's largest pub owner.

Punch shares slid after RBS warned that the group might have to use up all available cash flow in order to meet debt repayments. RBS itself is looking to offload some or all of the bank's 1,000-strong pub network, managed by Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises, just-drinks understands from a source close to the situation.