One of the UK's biggest pub groups has been snapped up by private equity giant Fortress.
Punch Pubs and Co, which is headquartered in Burton-upon-Trent, has been acquired by SoftBank-backed Fortress in a deal believed to be worth around £1 billion.
Punch, which has around 1,300 pubs, was previously owned by private equity rival Patron Capital which took over the company in 2016.
The latest takeover comes just five months after Punch acquired 56 pubs from the Young's Ram Pub Company for £53 million.
The pub group said it been able to "weather the ongoing challenges of the pandemic" due its "resilient" business model and mix of suburban and rural pub sites.
Punch Pubs & Co chief executive Clive Chesser said: "This is very positive news for everyone connected with Punch, and we are extremely excited about the opportunity that lies ahead with Fortress Investment Group.
"Fortress is a hugely experienced investor who understands the strengths of our business and fully buys into our strategic positioning and business plan.
"We welcome their ambition and commitment to work alongside the existing management team to invest in the business with innovation and capital to ensure our long-term success in what is a highly competitive market."
US-based Fortress, which also owns Majestic Wine, has sealed the deal around four months after missing out on supermarket giant Morrisons in a bidding war.
Cyril Courbage, managing director of Fortress Investment Group, said: "We are excited to team with Clive and the Punch management, which has done an exceptional job of navigating the challenges of the covid crisis while positioning the business for long-term growth and value creation.
"We believe in providing strong management teams with the flexibility and support to execute their long-term strategic plans.
"The UK is an extremely attractive investment environment, and we will continue to explore other opportunities in this sector and across the UK, Ireland and Europe."