Mail Online - March 22, 2010
The sale and leaseback of Mitchells and Butlers pub estate is back on the agenda.
A strategic review of the battered pubs group will show a 'change in mindset' at the firm. It had steadfastly resisted attempts by investors to force it to sell off property worth £4bn at its peak.
But the 60-day audit by new chairman John Lovering, who was appointed after 23pc stake owner Joe Lewis cleared out the old board earlier this year, will stop short of pushing for disposals.
But it will signal the board of M&B is open to the idea. This is a significant thawing from the stance held by ousted chief executive Tim Clarke.
While some investors might not feel this goes far enough, Lewis's right hand man, Richard McGuire, said: 'Its for the board to decide the best course of action and restore value for shareholders.
"We look forward to putting a series of questions to them on Wednesday."
Chief executive Adam Fowle signalled in January he would focus on growing key brands including Sizzling Pubs and Toby Carvery.
In a significant departure from growing the group through buying freehold properties, the review will set out plans to accelerate expansion through leasehold sites.
M&B has had a disastrous two years after being stalked by investors Robert Tchenguiz and embarking in its doomed currency gamble that cost it £422m previously.
The shares closed 1.10p higher at 292.1p valuing M&B at £1.8bn.
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