Rotch Property Group, the company owned by millionaire property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, has been named preferred bidder for the Laurel pub company, according to The Times newspaper.
The £151m bid from Rotch has beaten competition from several other bidders, including venture capital group GI Partners, which recently bought rival pub operator Yates Group.
Laurel was put up for sale by its private equity backers earlier this year. It has about 180 high-street pubs and bars, including the Hog's Head chain.
The group sold its 432 neighbourhood pubs to Greene King in July for £654m.
Rotch is now thought to be preparing a bid for Regent Inns, the troubled operator of the Walkabout and Jongleurs chains.
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