Midlands pub company Hardys & Hansons has admitted it is in talks with several potential suitors.
Hardys' share price rose 32p to close at 765p yesterday, valuing it at £153m, after the company announced that talks were in progress.
Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, Greene King and Punch Taverns have emerged as favourites to buy the 174-year-old company.
However, Hardy and Hanson family members, who control half of the company's voting rights and five million deferred shares, could oppose any takeover bid.
In December last year, the board replaced its managing director and unveiled plans to move to the Alternative Investment Market from a full listing on the London Stock Exchange.
By James Gallagher