The deadline for bidders for Nomura's 4,150 tenanted pubs passes today, with both Punch Pub Co and Enterprise Inns expected to post bids of just over £2bn through the letterbox at the Japanese finance house's headquarters in St Martin's Lane, London.

Nomura will decide the winner of the bidding for its Unique and Voyager chains tomorrow, Tuesday, with the sale to be completed on Wednesday, according to weekend speculation.

It is said that Nomura imposed such a tight deadline to create "competitive tension", and not because the sale price will affect the bonus received by Guy Hands, the financier whose team put together the original deals that created Unique and Voyager. Hands is leaving to run his own venture capital operation.

Although Nomura could decide not to sell either pub chain if the prices offered do not meet its expectations, insiders expect a deal will be finalised this week. If it does hold back from a sale, the two chains could be floated on the stock exchange.

Enterprise Inns is the management side of a bid backed financially by Cinven and Legal & General. If it wins, the Nomura pubs will be placed in a separate company called Unique, with Enterprise having the right to make an offer in 2004.

If Punch Pub Co, which is run by Giles Thorley, the former boss of Unique, wins the bidding it is expected to delay its own planned float until the autumn to enable it to absorb the Nomura pubs properly.

Last month Nomura sold its 1,200-outlet Inn Partnership estate to Pubmaster for £523m.