Property investor New River has confirmed it is in discussions to acquire pub owner Hawthorn Leisure.
Hawthorn Leisure was formed in 2014 by former banker Noah Bulkin from the purchase of 275 pubs from brewer and operator Greene King.
The company, which now has more than 300 pubs, reported post-tax losses of almost £9.5m in 2016.
In a statement New River said: "New River confirms that it has entered a period of exclusivity with Hawthorn and its major shareholder regarding a potential acquisition of the business.
"A transaction, if completed, would be funded from New River's existing resources. There can be no certainty that a transaction will be concluded and a further announcement, as appropriate, will be made as soon as practicable."
New River owns 33 shopping centres, 18 retail warehouses, 11 high street properties and 336 pubs.