Pubs to pets: Woolworths sells $636m Endeavour Group stake

Woolworths was selling a $636 million stake in pubs and bottleshops business Endeavour Group on Tuesday night, in a capital recycling trade via investment bank UBS.

Woolworths is expected to use proceeds for investments and general corporate purposes, according to terms sent to potential buyers, instantly sending thoughts to Woolworths’ imminent move on pet goods retailer PETstock, as revealed by Street Talk on Monday.

Having got out of pubs and pokies (at least as far as business lines go) and petrol in recent years, pets are emerging as a growth engine for Brad Banducci’s team.

The country’s biggest and most valuable grocer has been pushing further down the pets route, trying to capitalise on increased pet ownership and owners’ propensity to spend more on their animals.

It is understood to have cut a deal to buy a more than a 50 per cent stake in PETstock for about $600 million. The deal would value the pets business at about 11-times EBITDA.

Woolworths’ decision to recycle some capital from its long-held pubs investment to build its pets warchest is telling.

It’s the first time Woolworths has offloaded Endeavour Group stock since the grocer spun it off on to the ASX boards in June 2021, suggesting it’s close to securing the PETstock stake.

Late night trade

Stockbroker UBS underwrote the trade at $6.46 a share and was seeking institutional buyers after market, according to terms sent to potential buyers.

The deal was at $6.46 a share or a tight 3.6 per cent discount to the close, a 4.5 per cent discount to one-day VWAP and a 6.3 per cent discount to the five-day average price.

There were 98.5 million shares up for grabs.

Woolworths floated Endeavour Group and retained a 14.6 per cent stake last year. The spin-off owns bottle shop businesses including Dan Murphys and BWS and Australia’s biggest pubs group ALH.

The grocer will be left with a 9.1 per cent interest following the selldown.

The remaining shares would be worth about $1 billion based on Tuesday night’s sale price, and Woolworths told Tuesday night’s buyers that it had no current intention of reducing its interest further.

It’s expected to confirm the selldown on Wednesday.

It’s a big block trade in the Australian market, coming at the end of a quiet year. Fund managers and brokers expected Woolworths to reduce its Endeavour Group holding at some stage, however no one knew exactly when the trade would come.

Endeavour Group shares are down 1.3 per cent this year, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index has dropped 5.1 per cent.


Extracted from AFR

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