Speculation is mounting that Laurel Pub Company is in talks to sell about 150 high-street bars to nightclub operator Luminar for up to £150m.
Laurel - which was acquired by Iranian property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz in 2004 and snapped up both Yates and SFI the following year - declined to comment on reports that it wanted to sell Yates's and Litten Tree outlets to Luminar.
Luminar also refused to comment on the rumours.
"Luminar gets a number of approaches from people looking to reconfigure its businesses," said a spokesman. "The vast majority of conversations lead nowhere."
The rumoured sale would not appear to reflect Luminar's strategy of ditching its underperforming entertainment division, which includes Chicago Rock Café and Jumpin' Jaks, in order to focus on large, branded nightclubs such as Oceana, Liquid and Lava Ignite.
The company also declined to comment on reports that it had given David Crabtree, head of its entertainment division, the go-ahead to seek private-equity backing for a management buyout.
In March, property tycoon Nick Leslau and millionaire entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter dropped plans to buy the Luminar group.
By Angela Frewin