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LONDON-Punch Taverns has bought rival pub company Pubmaster in a £1.2 billion ($2 billion) deal. The deal increases Punch’s critical mass and consolidates its position in the UK’s top two pub operators.

Pubmaster had over 3,110 leased and tenanted pubs, bringing the Punch portfolio to over 7,400 properties. As part of the deal Punch has assumed more than £1 billion ($1.7 billion) of debt.

Punch chief executive Giles Thorley says: “This is a transformational deal for Punch and represents a quantum leap in terms of Punch’s growth. The Pubmaster Estate provides an excellent strategic and geographic fit with our existing portfolio and nearly doubles the size of our estate.

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