Punch Taverns founder Hugh Osmond is considering a bid for Tragus Group's Italian restaurant chain Strada.
Apollo Global Management, which owns Tragus, put the chain on the market in June. It is understood to want to sell it as soon as next month, following a restructuring deal that will see many of its 56 sites closed, reported the Financial Times.
Offers of £40m are being sought by Zolfo Cooper, which is managing the sale.
Strada was bought by Blackstone Group for £267m in 2006, but sales have declined in recent years largely as a result of the brand's struggle to stand out in a packed market place that includes PizzaExpress and Ask.
Parent company Tragus saw pre-tax losses almost double to £36m in the year ending June 2013 and three of its other brands, Bella Italia Restaurants, Café Rouge and Café Rouge Restaurants, each entered a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) in June.
Osmond, together with Luke Johnson, bought PizzaExpress in 1993 for £18m and oversaw its flotation and expansion to 367 restaurants. His company Sun Capital Partners has not yet decided whether it will bid for Strada.