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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Osmond in $9Bln Pub, Inn Bid

LONDON -- "Act decisively. Use maximum force. Do it today."

Not George W. Bush or Tony Blair, but the motto of Hugh Osmond, the swashbuckling British entrepreneur who has launched a £ 5.5 billion ($8.66 billion) bid for British hotels and pubs operator Six Continents PLC.

If he were to pull off a deal, Osmond would cement his status as a master dealmaker by topping his 1999 coup of buying 3,500 British pubs for £ 2.75 billion from Allied Domecq from under the nose of Whitbread PLC.

Osmond, whose listed interests are fast cars, tennis, shooting and skiing, has a reputation for spending money where it matters.

Operating from offices in central London variously described as "nondescript" and "shabby," Osmond has a Ferrari to commute home to the affluent St. John's Wood neighborhood nearby, and presumably something a little more practical to take his young family to their country estate west of London.

Backed by some major banks, Osmond said Monday that he would offer 36 new shares in his own relatively tiny listed firm, Capital Management and Investment PLC, or CMI, for each Six Continents share. Alternatively, he is making a cash-and-shares offer worth slightly less.

The bid threatens to scupper a plan by Six Continents to split its Inter-Continental and Holiday Inn hotels business and its All Bar One and O'Neill's British pubs chains into two separately listed groups.

Osmond has an almost unblemished record as a dealmaker, the only minor stain on his celebrated track record being his failure last November to buy back PizzaExpress PLC, the company that made his fortune.

Osmond, 40, sprang to notice in 1993 when he bought the trendy, jazz-influenced PizzaExpress chain for £ 18 million. Floated later that year, the company was worth £ 700 million when its share price peaked in May 1999.

In 1994, Osmond bought My Kinda Town, owner of the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory for £ 13 million, and sold it for £ 57 million a couple of years later to Capital Radio.

By 1997, his attention strayed from restaurants to pubs and he bought 2,300 of them -- first paying Japanese bank Nomura £ 210 million for 845 pubs and then paying £ 564 million to Six Continents (then called Bass) for 1,428 pubs.

That allowed Osmond to form Punch Taverns, whose leased business became one of the few major stock market flotations last year.

Another 1999 acquisition by Osmond was an interest in Blakes Clothing, now a cash shell called Capital Management and Investment, having been known as e-xentric in the interim when it chased the tech boom of 2000. It is through CMI that Osmond is bidding for Six Continents.