Robert Tchenguiz's R20 business has confirmed that it has made an 'informal' bid approach to Mitchells & Butlers (M&B).
After a day of intense City speculation, Laurel Pub Company owner R20 confirmed that after "extensive due diligence", it had sounded out the board of M&B over a 550p a share cash offer, which would value M&B at around £2.7bn.
R20 said it had opened talks in the hope that the M&B board would be willing "to engage in discussions".
A statement to the stock exchange added that R20 "intended that the informal approach be followed immediately by a formal written approach."
R20 had hoped to win support from the M&B board for a recommended offer. It is understood that R20 held talks with M&B chairman Roger Carr on Thursday evening.
M&B had earlier stressed that it will not consider any offer to have been tabled until it is received in writing.
The City expects Mr Tchenguiz and his advisers to regroup before deciding whether to increase the offer closer to 600p a share, understood to be the level at which M&B believes an offer should be pitched.