Wolverhampton & Dudley (W&D) is scouring the market for expansion armed with a £150m war chest.
Chairman David Thompson said last week: "We are alert to opportunities for acquisitions in the sector as it consolidates."
The company agreed a new £420m, five-year banking facility in March, and, along with Mitchells & Butlers, is also eyeing Laurel's 432-strong neighbourhood pub portfolio and Wizard Inns' 64 high-street sites, both of which are up for sale.
W&D will purchase 30 pubs for its 1,132-strong Union Pub Company this year, and has five new sites under development and 30 under negotiation for its 473-strong Pathfinder Pubs division.
Group turnover dropped 2.2% to £233.9m for the six-month period to 27 March, but despite increases in costs because of the minimum wage and increased pension contributions, pre-tax profits rose 5.4% to £31.7m (£30.1m).