Speculation about the future direction and ownership of pub chain Mitchells & Butlers is intensifying.
City observers expect an announcement on whether it plans to spin off its £5.5bn property portfolio when the company posts its half-year figures in May.
The outcome of that decision could in turn lead to Iranian entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz making another bid to take the 2,000-strong pub chain private.
May 22 is when M&B will post its half-year results for the 28 weeks to 14 April and, although the company is declining to comment, the City is strongly expecting to hear whether it will separate its property into a real estate investment trust (REIT).
REITs are a tax-efficient investment vehicle that allows individuals to invest in property through the Stock Exchange.
They came into force at the beginning of the year and some 14 companies have converted to them all, at this point purely property businesses.
Their attraction to big names such as M&B would be in enabling them to invest more cash on updating or renewing their property.
Tchenguiz, who failed in a bid last year but retains a 16% stake, is believed to be pushing M&B hard to go down the REIT route.
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By Nic Paton