Billionaire Joe Lewis Low Balls Business Offer

The 224p nil-premium offer was made through Mr Lewis’s Piedmont investment vehicle in late August, when the shares were trading at a 17-month low, but was rebuffed by Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) board.

Piedmont, which is the pubs group’s biggest shareholder with a 22.8pc holding, said it might return with a 230p-a-share offer, but that proposal was rejected on Monday night. M&B’s board claimed it “significantly undervalues the company”.

The putative offer would be a discount to Monday night’s price. M&B shares closed up 15½ at 235.6p on speculation of a looming bid before the announcement from Piedmont.

At 230p the offer would be valued at just a 4.5pc premium to M&B’s closing price on Friday, sparking accusations that Mr Lewis is attempting to acquire the embattled pub company on the cheap.