The planned Australian Venue Company (AVC) acquisition of the majority of Sand Hill Road venues has stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deal to acquire eight of nine Sand Hill Road venues – including the famed Hotel Esplanade in St Kilda – was announced by AVC at the beginning of March, with the deal expected to settle in the first half of April. However, within weeks of the deal’s announcement the coronavirus pandemic began to ramp up in Australia, and pubs across the country were forced into a shutdown.

Due to the dramatic decrease in trade industry-wide, the deal has since been put on the backburner, as AVC contends with its venues and staff already in the group’s portfolio. However, the door has been left open for the deal to be revisited once the pandemic is over and life returns to some form of normalcy.

“In the current environment, both Australian Venue Co. and Sand Hill Road Group are focussed on their own pubs and teams,” stated an AVC spokesperson.

“The two companies have enormous respect for one another other and the intention remains to pick up discussions again once we are through this crisis.”

Sand Hill Road declined to comment on the deal.

The deal – believed to be worth well in excess of $100 million – was for Melbourne venues The Espy, Garden State Hotel, Richmond Club, The Posty, Prahran Hotel, Holliava, The Bridge Hotel and Terminus Hotel.

AVC’s current portfolio is made up of 150 pubs, restaurants, bars and function spaces across Australia, including a joint venture with Coles for 87 hotels in Queensland under the name Queensland Venue Company. The majority owner of AVC is global investment firm KKR, which owns an 80 per cent stake in the company.

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