Hugh Osmond of Punch Group has declared an interest in at least some of the 1,700 pubs owned by the besieged Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, as Pubmaster crystallised as a serious bidder for the whole company, including its breweries.

The irony if Pubmaster, owner of 2,000 tenanted pubs, gains control of Wolves is that much of Pubmaster's estate was originally owned by Cameron's, one of the four breweries now in the W&D empire. It would thus reunite brewery with pub estate.

Osmonds said that although he was "highly unlikely" to bid for the whole of W&D, he might be interested in a smaller package of pubs if they became available.

W&D's board extended its deadline for offers for the company to April 20 after what it called "recent increased bid interest in the group".

At the same time NM Rothschild, the investment bank working for W&D, approached the Principal Finance Group arm of Nomura to ask if it was interested in launching a bid.

Guy Hands, boss of the Principal Finance Group, which recently successfully bid for Bass's 980 unbranded pubs, accepted the key to the data room containing W&D's financial information but did not put in an immediatebid.

Robert Breare's Noble Leisure has put in a bid for W&D of 500p a share, valuing it at £472m. Breare has had talks with Enterprise Inns about selling on W&D's 950 tenanted pubs, although it is believed that no formal agreement exists between the two.

Another serious bid proposal for the company has come from the company's management, led by the managing director, David Thompson. The management team is seeking backing from the private equity arm of Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS paid Wolves £40m for 284 houses a year ago.