Punch Taverns swings to pretax profit of £60m in fiscal 2016
UK pub operator Punch Taverns said its average profit per pub increased by 4% in the latest financial year Reuters

Shares in Punch Taverns soared over 37% on 14 December, after reports emerged suggesting Heineken and one of the company's founders are locking horns to gain control of the chain.

According to Sky News, the Dutch brewing giant, which controls Strongbow and Amstel among other brands, has made an approach for Britain's second-largest pub chain, which owns about 3,300 sites across the country.

However, Heineken, which owns 1,100 leased pubs itself through its Star Pubs & Bars division, faces competition from Alan McIntosh, who was among the company's founders when Punch Taverns was set up in 1997.

McIntosh, a wealthy entrepreneur who is thought to be working with advisers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is reported to have made an offer of more than 180p-a-share for the London-listed company.

Meanwhile, Heineken's offer is understood to be marginally lower.

Shares in Punch Taverns opened trading on Wednesday morning at 129.4p, valuing the company at £285m. The pub operator, however, is still burdened with debts, despite posting its first annual profit since 2013 last month.

Punch's average profit per pub increased by 4% in the year to 20 August, which the company attributed to the disposal of non-core pubs, a strategy it completed over the last 24 months.

The company also reported it had cut its net debt by a further 16% in the period to £223m, which amounted to 6.6 times underlying earnings, down from the 7.2 times it stood at in the previous fiscal year.