Alternative Asset Investment Management (aAIM), the property investment fund, which is backed music impresario Simon Cowell and football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, is in talks to buy 279 surplus pubs from Marston’s (formerly Wolverhampton & Dudley). The deal will form the basis of an empire of some 1,500 pubs over the next few years. AAIM has hired Colin Rowlinson, former finance director at the Yates bar chain, to oversee its expansion in the sector. The Sunday Times 29/4/07 page 2 (Business)