Noble House Leisure is in pole position to clinch Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries for £472m, according to a report by Reuters.

The company, led by Robert Breare, formerly of Innspired, has formed an alliance with Enterprise Inns and Greene King, who would take some of W&D's pubs.

Potential rivals such as Pubmaster, Nomura and a management buyout team are believed to be out of the frame.

Enterprise Inns would buy 1,000 tenanted pubs and some small managed houses for conversion to tenancies, Greene King would buy 80 of the larger managed outlets for about £80m, leaving Noble House Leisure with the breweries and a few hundred pubs.

These would include Pitcher and Piano which would make a good fit for its own Jim Thompson's pub restaurants, Fatty Arbuckles stakehouses, Yellow River noodle bars and Oriental Restaurants.

NM Rothchild, Wolves' financial adviser, has set April 20 as the final deadline for bids.

* Noble House Leisure is still intending to open the first site of its new Indian restaurant concept, Gunga Din.

The Lord Palmerston pub in Kings Road, Fulham, West London has finally received planning permission after 12 months of wrangling with local residents and planning officers. There is currently no date set for the new opening.

The company is currently focusing on the roll-out of its two Oriental chains Yellow River Café and Jim Thompson's.