De Vere, the hotel company formed out of Greenalls Pubs and Restaurants, is hoping to buy back Premier Lodge, the budget brand it sold to Scottish and Newcastle in 1999. Spirit Group is now auctioning off the brand, which it acquired from Scottish and Newcastle Retail last year. The company confirmed that it had been in discussions with Sun Capital - Hugh Osmond’s investment vehicle - over a bricks and brains split, whereby De Vere would operate the majority of the assets with Sun owning them. The auction is another shot for Osmond at a hotel group, after he failed in his efforts to buy Six Continents before it split into InterContinental Hotels Group and Mitchells & Butlers. De Vere said: "The board believes that the UK budget hotel sector, which has grown rapidly in the past, will continue to do so strongly, and that the acquisition of Premier Lodge would provide De Vere with a second growth brand in addition to Village Hotels." Sun Capital was one of four bidders to have made it to the second round of the auction, alongside Whitbread, Nomura’s asset finance arm and private equity group Apax Partners. The move would be strong one for Carl Leaver, De Vere’s chief executive, who joined the company in September last year from Whitbread, where he was managing director of Travel Inn for three years. Increasingly, De Vere has found that its best performer is its Village Hotels brand, a top-end budget operation with the added attraction of leisure facilities. De Vere is currently fending off a partial bid from Guinness Peat, which is hoping to force a sell-off of the group’s most prestigious hotels.