Amber Taverns Limited
Christie + Co advised private equity firm LGV Capital on its secondary management buy-out of Amber Taverns Limited, the community-focused pub company, based in Preston, Lancashire. It owns and operates 56 pubs, predominantly in the North West and North East under its unique Operator Agreements, which incentivise its pub operators by offering them a share of the pub’s takings. LGV backed the existing management team of Clive Preston (Chairman), James Baer (Joint Managing Director), Bryan Wardman (Joint Managing Director), Michael Norris (Finance Director) and Gary Roberts (Operations Director). Amber said it could now double the size of its estate in the next three to four years.
In early 2008 Christie + Co was engaged to advise Duke Street Capital and the other investors in Sandpiper CI Limited — a new company that was established to acquire the retail and hospitality assets of CI Traders, the Jersey based conglomerate. Christie + Co’s corporate team provided valuations and strategic advice on options for the transition of the 65-strong portfolio into a modern pub estate, which would leverage its dominant position in the Channel Islands and make it attractive to UK buyers.
Following its successful takeover of CI Traders, Sandpiper retained the food and non-food retail business and resold the licensed estate to Liberation Group — which Christie + Co continues to advise.
Christie + Co had known Merchant Inns since its beginnings and throughout the acquisition and development of a group of interesting and individual properties around London. Christie + Co’s pub team was therefore ideally placed to advise Deloitte when they were appointed as administrators to the group in October 2009. A specialist team, comprising valuers and transactional experts, was able to assist Deloitte and RBS in reviewing options for the potential sale of the seven-strong hotel and inns group.
Pubs 'n' Bars
As the recession and the credit crunch bit in late 2009, one of the biggest casualties was the 85-strong Pubs ‘n’ Bars group, which operates mainly across the South of England and includes the Hobgoblin brand of town centre pubs.
With a mixture of freehold and leasehold assets, it was important to the administrator, Grant Thornton, to decide which assets to retain and which to sell or hand back to landlords. Christie + Co’s ability to inspect all the pubs and report back within a week meant that a strategy could be put in place which maximised the benefit of the Christmas trade at the same time as managing a strategic exit from certain pubs. Christie + Co continues to work with Grant Thornton and the bank to identify further specific opportunities within the portfolio.
Christie + Co has been involved with this iconic roadside restaurant chain from the days of its ownership by the Forte Group and continued to work with the new owners — R Capital — following their acquisition of the business in 2007.
The ever changing nature of the UK’s road network and the increased competition from oil companies via their in-store branded coffee and snack concepts means that established operators such as Little Chef have had to evolve and develop their brand. The widely publicised relationship with Heston Blumenthal has raised the profile of Little Chef and introduced a new and younger customer group.
As part of this evolution of the brand Christie + Co has carried out numerous disposals of non-core sites, many for alternative uses, and the company’s specialist corporate advisory team provides annual revaluations of the residual portfolio.
Following its acquisition of more than 50 Caffè Unos in 2005, Paramount moved from a specialist London operator into a sizeable force in the UK restaurant sector. Christie + Co assisted with a strategic review which led the company to decide to focus on its French brands and to sell non-core brands and sites.
Christie + Co’s specialist team was appointed to offer 37 properties for sale, including the renowned Bertorelli group of central London restaurants. Through a carefully controlled and structured process Christie + Co negotiated deals on the sites, allowing Paramount to press ahead with its plans and providing other operators with opportunities to buy sites that would rarely be offered to the market.
Project Cobalt – Christie + Co acted on behalf of Synova Capital LLP in their acquisition of this specialist care business with 14 units in the south east and Midlands. The units provide a range of styles of accommodation and care packages, from supported living through to units for residents with physical disability. This represents Synova’s entry into this market from which they are looking to expand the operation by way of acquisition and organic growth.
Care Tech Holdings
CareTech – Christie + Co provided a valuation of 215 assets for the debt providers to CareTech Holdings Ltd, a specialist care business with assets located from the south east of England to Yorkshire. The properties provide a wide range of care packages from supported living, to children’s care, to psychiatric rehabilitation although the majority of the portfolio comprises long term care of younger adults with learning disabilities.
The senior management of Kidsunlimited obtained significant backing from LDC (Lloyds Development Capital) to enable them to gain a controlling stake in the Wilmslow-based business. Christie + Co’s corporate childcare specialists acted on behalf of LDC throughout the due diligence process. Faced with extremely tight timescales, the team was able to respond quickly, offering experienced guidance, desk-top analysis and drive-by inspections in order to support LDC’s bid.
Sale of Asquith Nurseries
Christie + Co acted on behalf of private equity firm, Lyceum Capital, in the provision of valuation advice in advance of its sale of Asquith Nurseries to Dawnay, Day Principal Investments and Swordfish Investments LLP for £95 million. Asquith is one of the UK’s largest nursery groups, offering places for some 10,000 children across 113 nurseries and crèches nationwide.
Taking aAIM into the pub industry
On 10 May aAIM announced its £82.5m purchase of 279 pubs from Marston’s Pub Company (formerly The Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries). Christie + Co inspected and valued the pubs on behalf of aAIM and its partners, providing detailed advice, which assisted aAIM in the preparation of its bid, and in evaluating its strategy for the pubs.
Dispensing valuable advice
When Guy Hands announced his intention to bid for Alliance Boots, he knew that detailed and professional property advice would be essential to give confidence to investors and credibility to Terra Firma’s bid. Christie + Co was the obvious choice. Providing an immediate response to Guy Hands’ request, Christie + Co staff from our network of 16 offices visited over half of Boots’ UK and Irish stores in just four days. Despite the incredibly tight timescales, the Christie + Co team gathered detailed information and provided valuable assessments to Terra Firma.
Valuation of Crowne Plaza London - The City
UBS commissioned Christie + Co’s International Hotel Advisory Group to conduct a Valuation of Crowne Plaza London – The City to support the successful acquisition of the hotel by Italian property investor Gruppo Statuto. UBS provided debt finance, and required an RICS-complaint valuation for secured lending purposes.
LRG Portfolio Valuation
Christie + Co valued one of the UK’s largest hotel portfolios on behalf of the purchasers, LRG Acquisition Limited, a consortium formed by Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners, Realstar Group and GIC Real Estate. The 73 hotels, which have over 12,500 rooms were operated by Intercontinental Hotels Group under the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Express by Holiday Inn brands. The purchase, for c£1 billion, was subsequently securitised with Christie + Co again advising.
The Priory Group
Christie + Co’s specialist healthcare valuation team was recently called upon to value The Priory Group’s extensive portfolio. ABN AMRO announced its acquisition of the Priory Group, for a total equity and debt consideration of £875 million, in July 2005. Following this acquisition, Christie + Co was instructed to provide a valuation for use in both the syndication of debt facilities and as part of a securitisation process.
Christie + Co advise Hand Picked Hotels
Christie + Co advised Hand Picked Hotels, a portfolio of 15 mainly 4 star hotels throughout the UK, founded by Guy Hands in 1999. The hotels are currently undergoing further development costed at £100 million. The company is aiming to upgrade the properties to be market leaders and to date already half the schemes have been completed.
Valuation of The Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
The latest addition to Sir Richard Branson’s Limited Edition Collection of Hotels was valued by Christie + Co. Located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, the former colonial fort has been stunningly converted to a luxury 18 bedroom spa/retreat hotel with a dazzling inventory of antique artefacts.
Valuation of Ryder Cup venue
Christie + Co valued the lavish Kildare Hotel and Country Club in Ireland, which was the venue for the 2006 Ryder Cup. The client was JSG Packaging, which is controlled by US venture capitalists Madison Dearborn. The valuation was completed in preparation for the sale to its founder Dr Michael Smurfit, and Mr Gerard Gannon. The resort hotel has 69 guest rooms/suites and two Arnold Palmer-designed golf courses. It was sold, together with various ancillary properties in Straffan and Dublin, for €115m (£80m).
Christie + Co advises on Caffé Uno acquisition
Christie + Co played an important part in Paramount Restaurants’ recent acquisition of Caffé Uno. Paramount has bought 53 of the 58 Caffé Uno sites for £33 million.
Caffé Uno, which was sold by The Restaurant Group, joins the Paramount’s Chez Gérard, Livebait, Café Fish and Bertorelli brands.
Christie + Co provided valuation and strategic advice to both Paramount and its bankers HSBC.
The Brewery, Chiswell Street, London, sells for £55m
Christie + Co sold Whitbread's former HQ in the City of London, for £55m.
A highly competitive marketing strategy and close teamwork resulted in over 20 bids, with the eventual sale being concluded within four months of instruction. The 250-year-old site incorporated “The Brewery”, a highly successful functions and banqueting suite, 120,000 sq ft of former office space (with planning for 118 serviced apartments) and a variety of investment and development properties in close proximity.
Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries
Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries is one of the UK’s largest regional brewers and pub operators. Recently, it decided to carry out a securitisation to refinance its debt. Christie + Co was instructed to provide a valuation of 1,592 pubs. This included the core Wolverhampton & Dudley, Marston and Mansfield estates plus the recently acquired Burtonwood estate. A team of senior valuers, headed up by Colin Wellstead and James Shorthouse, provided a valuation of £1.17bn for the 1,592 pubs.
Continued consolidation in the healthcare sector saw the Corporate Healthcare Team provide a vendor due diligence valuation of the 13 freeholds forming part of the Bettercare group on the instructions of N M Rothschild. The work continued a long standing professional relationship between BetterCare and Christie + Co. The portfolio was acquired by Four Seasons Health Care for around £116 million after some aggressive bidding with Christie + Co subsequently required to re-value the assets for refinancing purposes.
Bel & the Dragon gastro pubs
Gourmet Holdings (Formerly Madisons Coffee) purchased (for £6.28m) Bel & the Dragon, a chain of gastro pubs with an excellent reputation for style and food. The valuation was provided by Christie + Co to support the finance which was arranged via Christie First. The pubs are located in Godalming, Cookham and Windsor and Gourmet Holdings intends to expand the chain.
Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries’ five-yearly valuation
Christie + Co was instructed by the Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries to undertake the five-yearly revaluation of its estate. Christie + Co inspected and valued over 1,250 managed and tenanted public houses and 350 unlicensed properties throughout England. The W&D licensed estate comprises a huge variety of pubs, ranging from small village locals to highly regarded Pitcher & Piano bars. The project involved over 30 valuers from across Christie + Co’s network of UK offices, and was completed and delivered to the client on schedule.
Ridgmont Care Homes
Christie + Co was delighted to receive an approach from Deloitte & Touche LLP to provide a vendor due diligence valuation on behalf of Ridgmont Care Homes. The portfolio, comprising 29 freehold care homes throughout England, was valued in an impressive seven working days - to fit in with a very aggressive timescale for the transaction. The business was subsequently acquired by Ashbourne Homes for a figure in excess of £85 million.
When Punch Taverns was researching the acquisition of Pubmaster, it appointed Christie + Co to undertake a review of the Pubmaster estate of 3,127 pubs. In excess of 600 pubs were inspected within a two-week period with advice given to Punch on value as a pub, value for alternative use, rental on a substantive agreement, estimate of barrelage, AWP and rent, plus a number of other factors. This was instrumental in Punch completing the transaction at £1.19 billion. We subsequently acted for Punch providing a valuation in the disposal of 256 pubs to London & Edinburgh Inns for £59million.
Unique Pub Co estate
We have been valuers of the Unique Pub Co estate throughout its ownership by both Nomura and Enterprise Inns. We have undertaken annual valuations of the 4,000 or so pub estate since 1999. The last valuation in 2004 attributed a value of £2.359 billion, which equates to £590k per pub. This work is overseen by James Shorthouse and includes a team of local valuers who inspect 20% of the properties with a desktop review being undertaken of the remainder.
Corporate healthcare valued the 74 freehold assets plus five investments operated by Ashbourne Homes. The valuation of the properties, spread throughout the UK, involved valuers in all of our 14 UK regional offices. The necessary inspections were completed and the final report provided within a three-week timescale. Ashbourne was subsequently sold by its equity investor, Electra Partners, to the management team of Cannon Capital for around £280 million.
Est Est Est restaurants
Christie + Co was instructed by Living Ventures and its bank in the recent deal which saw Living Ventures sell a 50% stake to The Restaurant Group and, at the same time, acquire 19 Est Est Est restaurants for £16.4million. A team of our valuers from inspected the Est Est Est restaurants and provided a valuation to support the acquisition. This was headed up by James Shorthouse.