Nightclub operator Luminar says talks to secure the sale of its struggling Entertainment Division are "at an advanced stage".
The group, which today announced half year pre-tax profits down 15 per cent to £17.9m, said the sale of the units - between 90 and 100 - would be completed by the end of the year.
It would take the form of a sale and leaseback of the freeholds and would see the formation of a new operating company in which Luminar will hold a minority stake.
The move follows a number of attempts to sell the division, all of which so far have proved fruitless.
Luminar also said it planned to continue with its £70m share buyback programme, and had acquired more than 500,000 shares for £2.4m in the first half.
The City welcomed both the disposal news and confirmation that shares would be continue to be repurchased, at one stage sending Luminar's shares up six per cent - 37p - to 65p.
Sales from continuing operations for the six months to August 31 totalled £99.4m, up 3.8 per cent, while pre-exceptional EBITDA from continuing businesses fell 17.3 per cent to £22m.
The group said it had made "good progress in its transformation to a late night branded destination dancing business" during the period. It said 45 sites were now in this category, representing half of its total annualised dancing revenue, with admissions up six per cent.
Its experience of the Scottish smoking ban was "positive" while preparations for the English and Welsh bans were "well advanced".
Luminar said its chairman Keith Hammill, who is retiring next month, is being replaced by industry veteran and Inn Business founder Alan Jackson.
Hamish Champ, City & Business Editor says: While the City goes berkso over the conclusion to the Luminar Entertainment Division sale saga, there's a more prosaic point to raise on the subject of the group's proposals to cater for its smoking customers. It apparently plans to build outdoor balconies on the first floor of its various premises to enable those youngsters needing a respite from boogieing to the latest tunes to be able to have a much-needed cigarette. This raises the prospect of significant numbers of smokers congregating about a dozen feet above street level, presumably enjoying themselves. Assuming the local planning departments don't have an issue with this strategy, such activity would no doubt (have to) be properly policed. All I can say is, you wouldn't get me up in one of those things.