Electra Partners, the private equity firm, which recently acquired the Original Bowling Company, is believed to have edged ahead in the race to acquire the UK arm of TGI Friday’s, which is valued at c£230m-£250m, M&C Report has learnt.

Although not yet in exclusive talks, Electra is understood to have moved ahead of former Barracuda Pub Company-backer Charterhouse Capital Partners in the bidding for the Karen Forrester-led business, after third round bids were submitted earlier this week.

It is thought that if successful, Electra will look to back the existing management team, which has overseen the successful turnaround of the 65-strong chain, and fund a continued rollout of the brand.

It may also explore opportunities to bolt on further businesses and leverage the culture and operational framework that Forrester has successfully implemented at TGI’s.

It is understood that a third suitor - Lion Capital, the former backer of Wagamama, dropped out of the running before the latest round of bids were due.

Sentinel Capital and TriArtisan Partners, which acquired the global TGI Friday’s business in May for c$800m (£470m), appointed Rothschild to oversee the sale of its UK estate earlier this summer.

The business, which reported EBITDA of £19.9m in 2013, saw turnover increase to £166.8m in the 53 weeks to 30 December 2013, from £147.7m the year before. Like-for-like sales climbed 3.6%.

Earlier this year, the company launched a new “Fast Track” format at Manchester Piccadilly station, its first site at a transport hub.

Part of its aim to reach 120 UK locations by 2020, the company said the combined the “fresh and flavourful food for which Friday’s is famous within a restaurant environment tailored to the needs of the busy traveller”, with meals to be served within 10 minutes of order.

Of this 120-site target, the company believes there is opportunity to operate c80 sites under its core format.