Admiral Taverns, the UK's third-largest tenanted pub operator has paid £326m for 869 Punch Taverns outlets. Financial Times. Daily Telegraph

The purchase gives the private company, which is owned by the Landesberg and Rosenberg property families, a total of 2,700 pubs across England and Wales, of which 1,205 have been bought from Punch over the past two and a half years. In November Admiral bought 155 pubs from Greene King in November for £57m.

The purchase will be financed through £3.5m of preference shares and £322.5m in cash and will complete next month.

Pub operators are bracing themselves for the ban on smoking in public places that comes into effect on 1 July. Around 60% of the pubs being sold to Admiral are in the bottom 20% of Punch’s estate in terms of profitability.

Gary Landesberg, chief executive of Admiral, said: 'We have acquired freehold pubs which will contribute to building a sustainable business for the long-term. This is an excellent acquisition for Admiral. The majority of pubs are freehold and the estate provides Admiral with further significant scale nationwide and excellent synergies with our existing pub estate.'