Former Whitbread restaurant executive Stephen Evans and his team have agreed a £67m management buy-in at Brannigans, the late-night bars chain.

Candover, the venture capital firm, bought the Brannigans operation last year as part of its acquisition of First Leisure's bars and nightclubs arm. Phildrew Ventures is now purchasing it, by backing the buy-in with debt funding from the Bank of Scotland.

The deal involves 14 sites. First Leisure is retaining six that act as feeder bars to its nightclubs.

Evans says he plans to use his knowledge of the casual dining market to boost the new business, to be called Mustard Entertainment Restaurants.

Mustard plans to invest £30m in up to 20 new Brannigans venues over the next three years and is looking for further acquisitions to raise current annual sales of £40m to more than £100m.

Industry observers believe the purchase price is high, and it is already thought to have come down £5m since the due diligence process.