Managed operators Laurel Pub Company and Spirit Group are thought to be contesting the sale of the Tom Cobleigh managed business.
Parent company Electra Partners Europe, which recently sold the 28-strong Cobleigh tenanted arm to brewer Daniel Thwaites for £11.2m, is understood to be keen to exit the business entirely.
The Cobleigh managed business comprises 80 large-scale sites, many of which positioned on retail parks or edge-of-town locations.
The asking price is thought to be between £65m and £70m.
Electra has so far denied the business is for sale but the venture capitalist is thought to have approached a number of managed operators. It bought Tom Cobleigh from leisure group Rank in 2000 for £90m.
Executives from both Laurel and Spirit declined to comment on whether they were interested in buying the business. Both companies are keen to acquire new sites.
Meanwhile, Laurel will shortly announce the appointment of a strategic development director, who will be responsible for acquiring 200 pubs. The company aims to build its estate to 800, before floating on the stock market.
Thwaites snaps up Nice Pub Company (20 December 2002)
Spirit looks to snap up Cobleigh estate (7 November 2002)