Speculation that maverick JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has been in sale talks with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) have been denied both by Mr Martin and M&B.
Mr Martin told The Publican: "This is an annual rumour, but I am not known for having chats. The answer is we are not in talks with anyone."
M&B spokesman Simon Ward refused to comment.
However, City analysts agreed Wetherspoon and M&B would be a reasonable fit, especially as M&B has increasingly been following a price-cutting strategy.
"Wetherspoon's market position is under a number of pressures at the moment and there is no question there would be synergy between the two," said one.
Wetherspoon has had a tough year with disappointing trading results in September and sliding share prices resulting in cost cutting and slowdown in the opening of new pubs. This has led to speculation over the future of the group.
With Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin back in the driving seat after a six-month sabbatical earlier this year, the company is fighting to regain the full confidence of the City.