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UK: Punch Taverns silent on Matthew Clark stake

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Punch Taverns has declined to comment on a report that it may sell its 50% stake in UK drinks supplier Matthew Clark.
 
Speculation that Punch Taverns might dispose of its shareholding in Matthew Clark has arisen after Constellation Brands, the only other shareholer in the UK-based drinks distributor, said it would sell its stake to private equity group CHAMP.

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Australia-based CHAMP will acquire 50% of Matthew Clark alongside the bulk of Constellation's Australian and South African wine operations, Constellation announced two weeks ago.

Following news of the deal, a report in last weekend's Sunday Times newspaper claimed that Punch Taverns, too, could sell its Matthew Clark stake as it seeks to cut debt and refocus on its core pub business. According to the paper, rival drinks distributor WaverleyTBS, which is owned by the Manfield investment group, has approached Punch regarding Matthew Clark, which specialised in on-trade drinks distribution.

A Punch spokesperson declined to comment on the matter when contacted by just-drinks today (4 January). She said that a strategic review of Punch business divisions is "ongoing" and may be concluded within the next few months.

The new CEO of Punch, Ian Dyson, is keen to reorganise the company in order to improve results. "I have started a comprehensive review of our strategy, operating performance and capital structure with a view to exploring options to create value for our shareholders," said Dyson following the group's annual results statement in October. Dyson joined Punch in September.  

Punch reported net losses of GBP197.3m (US$305.3m) for the 12 months to 21 August, albeit down on losses of GBP278.1m in the previous year.


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