Bob Ivell, executive chairman of Regents Inn, confirmed he has been approached to head up a bid for Mitchells & Butlers (M&B).
Any Ivell led bid would be in direct competition with Iranian tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, who is reported to be working on a £4bn bid for the managed-house group.
Potential for a dealIvell, who oversees the Australian bar-brand Walkabout and comedy-club chain Jongleurs, told the Morning Advertiser's sister paper M&C Report: "With Tchenguiz's interested it shows there is potential for a deal to take place, and there is a lot of potential in M&B.
"I can confirm some interested parties have approached me but these talks are at a very early stage at the moment."
Ivell was formerly executive chairman of Scottish & Newcastle Retail, the managed pub arm of Britain's largest brewer, running 2,300 sites including Premier Travelodge.
M&B, which is currently capitalised at £2.363bn, operates 2,000 pubs and restaurants under a number of brands including All Bar One, Harvester and Toby.
Shares in M&B are currently priced at 476p a share.
Bid expected this weekTchenguiz, who is working with Apax Partners, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland and Halifax Bank of Scotland, is expected to place a bid for the business as early as this week.
Analysts suggest a successful bidder would need to offer 600p per share for the board to recommend a sale of the company, which including debt would value the business at £4.5bn.