Robert Tchenguiz could make a bid for Britain's biggest managed pub operator Mitchells & Butlers as early as next week say experts.
The Iranian property tycoon has wasted no time in putting together a consortioum with the financial clout to meet the expected £4billion price tag.
Tchenguiz is reported to have approached private equity firm Apax Partners to persuade it to join a consortium to approach M&B's board.
ConsortiumThe consortium is believed to include HBOS, Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Scotland, with Barclays Capital and Goldman, which is also acting as financial adviser.
According to sources an initial bid of up to 525p a share could be made by the middle of next week, which would value M&B at about £2.6bn, or over £4bn after including debt. Net debt in October 2005 was £1.6bn.
Shares in M&B dropped by 9.5p yesterday to close at 480.5p a share.
M&B currently operates 2,000 pubs and restaurants brands including All Bar One and Harvester.
Tchenguiz is tipped to merge at least 1,500 of these outlets with his managed pub operation Laurel, which operates 400 pubs.
Converted to tenanciesThe rest of the estate could be converted to tenancies, then sold to rivals or merged with Tchenguiz's Globe Pub Company.
It is believed that current Laurel chairman Ian Payne would take up the position of chief executive at the newly enlarged chain, with current Somerfield chairman John Lovering moving across to a similar role in the new business.
Both men have experience of running Laurel before, while Payne ran many of M&B's pubs when they were under Bass.