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Greene King sales improve ahead of proposed takeover

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(Reuters) – Greene King Plc <GNK.L> said on Friday comparable sales at its pubs rose 1.5% over the last seven weeks, as it prepared for a proposed 4.6 billion pound takeover by a company founded by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-Shing.

Last month, the brewer of Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale agreed to the bid from Hong Kong-listed CK Asset <1113.HK>, which said it was seeking to increase its UK presence even as Brexit concerns loom large.

However, Greene King said total comparable sales for Pub Company – through which it manages its chain of about 2,730 pubs, restaurants and hotels – were down 1.8% for the 18 weeks ended Sept. 1, reflecting the tough comparatives of last year’s successful Fifa World Cup and good weather.

Cold weather in May, followed by a wet June this year prompted Britons to stay at home, hitting many retailers too.

The proposed takeover comes at a time when Greene King’s rivals JD Wetherspoon <JDW.L>, Mitchells & Butlers <MAB.L> and Marston’s <MARS.L> are struggling with a rise in minimum wage and higher costs.

Greene King’s investors are yet to vote on the takeover bid.

Comparable net income at its Pub Partners unit was down 4.2% for the first 16 weeks of its financial year, while total beer volumes were down 6.5% for the first 18 weeks at Brewing & Brands.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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