Retail entrepreneur Richard Caring is understood to have won the race to buy Signature restaurant group this week.
As Caterer went to press, news was emerging that Caring had exchanged contracts for the group of London properties, which include celebrity hangouts the Ivy and Le Caprice along with fish restaurant J Sheekey, Daphne's, Bam-Bou and Pasha.
Media reports last week speculated that three or four parties had been shortlisted for the auction, which is expected to raise up to £30m. A management buy-out has also been mooted.
Caring, who recently bought the exclusive Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey with hotelier Surinder Arora, was unavailable for comment.
Neither Signature nor KPMG's corporate finance arm, which is handling the deal, would comment on the sale. It is understood that Signature aims to retain its two Belgo beer-and-mussels restaurants, 23 Strada pizza eateries and three Bierodrome sites.