Regent Inns is thought to have become the third company to make an offer for vodka bar chain Inventive Leisure.
Regent has been taking a look at the 40-strong group along with venture capital firm Alchemy Partners and nightclub operator Ultimate Leisure.
Inventive first admitted offer talks were in progress at the start of September, when it said it had received an approach from an unnamed private equity house, widely tipped as Alchemy.
In early November, Ultimate confirmed it too had made an offer.
The share price of Inventive has been ticking upwards but it still sits below the rumoured 180p price Alchemy has tabled.
About 40% of Inventive's shares are controlled by its management, headed by chief executive Roy Ellis.
By Andrew Sangster
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