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First Quench buy cheers Nomura

Nomura’s principal finance group is to acquire First Quench, the UK’s largest off-licence chain, from Punch Taverns and Whitbread. The chain, which comprises some 2,600 stores operating under the Victoria Wine, Thresher, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack and Martha’s Vineyard names, last year made an operating profit of just GBP15 million on sales of GBP1.3 billion. The deal is due to complete in October, subject to regulatory approval.

First Quench has arguably made a considerably greater contribution to national life in the UK than either the Millennium Dome, which Nomura has decided not to buy in the face of lower than estimated visitor numbers and a number of unresolved issues relating to supplier contracts, or the utility group Hyder (Welsh for water’), which fell to Western Power of the US following a sealed bid contest with Nomura.

To acquire First Quench, Guy Hands’ principal finance group beat off competition from rival financial bidder PPM Ventures.