Enterprise Inns plans £463m buy-back

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Enterprise Inns, the UK pub operator, confirmed on Tuesday plans to buy back at least £463m of shares during the next 12 months, as it reported full-year results in line with market expectations and said it had sold its 137 pubs in Scotland to the Tchenguiz family for £115m.

Profit before tax and exceptional items for the 12 months to September 30 was £315m, up from £290m a year earlier. Pre-tax profit after exceptionals was £415m, up from £275m. Revenues rose to £970m from £952m.

The most significant exceptional items during the year were a £67m profit on disposal of property, plant and equipment, and the movement in fair value of interest rate swaps of £40m.

Ted Tuppen, chief executive, said: ”The new financial year has started well and we look forward to another year of solid progress.”

He added that the company did not expect the coming year to be materially easier for the on-trade and that poorer quality pubs would struggle, particularly if they were unable to create opportunities from the forthcoming smoking ban in England and Wales.

“The smoking ban will become effective in Wales and in England in April and July 2007 respectively and we are confident that our licensees are in a position to make the most of this evolution in pub-going,” the company said in a statement.

The board declared a final dividend of 18 pence per share for a total payout of 27p, up 50 per cent from the previous year.

The company, which operates leased and tenanted pubs, said it planned to match the £463m returned to shareholders last year through share buybacks, subject to overall market conditions and shareholder approval.

The group’s pubs in Scotland are being sold to Retail & Licensed Properties, a newly-formed company set up by R20, the investment vehicle of Robert Tchenguiz.

R20 is also buying 46 pubs from Scottish and Newcastle, taking its portfolio to more than 550 pubs.

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