Admiral Taverns has completed its acquisition of rival pubco Hawthorn from property investor NewRiver in a £222.3m deal.
The sale, first announced in July, sees Hawthorn's 674 pubs join Admiral's 969-strong estate, taking its portfolio to more than 1,600 and creating one of Britain's biggest pub firms.
Hawthorn may also receive a further £4m following the sale from a pending insurance claim, which is to be paid to NewRiver under the terms of the sale agreement.
Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, said: "This is one of the biggest acquisitions by Admiral to date and marks a significant step forward against our strategy, allowing us to acquire an excellent portfolio of 674 pubs, which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach."
NewRiver entered the pub sector with the acquisition of 202 Marston's pubs in 2013 and it bought Hawthorn for £106.8m in 2018.
In April the property investor announced it was exploring an initial public offering of Hawthorn following a strategic review, which would see the pub group launched as a separately listed company.
NewRiver said it would use the proceeds of the sale to reduce its net debt, with £100m used to repay the outstanding balance on its revolving credit facility.
Following the completion of the sale, Mark Davies has stepped down as chief executive of Hawthorn.
He said: "Running Hawthorn has been a great honour in my career. In seven years, we have built a leading and well-respected community pub company with a high-quality management team, a best-in-class operating platform and industry-leading licensee satisfaction scores. This is a testament to my team, the culture that we have created, and the way we run our business...
"Our ambition at Hawthorn was to create the UK's number one community pub operator, and the decision to explore an IPO alongside private sale was taken with the goal of securing the funding to help us grow and realise that objective. We were successful in receiving the strong support of the capital markets and a number of leading private equity firms, which is a testament to the high quality business and team. In Admiral, we have found a culturally likeminded and supportive operator who will take this business forward. I wish Chris Jowsey and the team every success in the future. To my Hawthorn team, a sincere thank you for all you have done for me and the business."
He added: "It has been a pleasure and a privilege to grow a new pub company at pace and achieve so much with Hawthorn in a few short years. This has been a wonderful journey, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds."
Davies will continue in his roles as a board member of the BBPA, chairman of the BBPA finance committee, and chairman of the WBPA until further notice.