Pubmaster is said to have lost its original backer in its audacious bid for Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, the German bank WestLB, after a conflict of interest involving a rival bidder for Wolves, Robert Breare's Noble House Leisure.

However, the tenanted pub company has apparently found a new finance partner for its attempt to buy Wolves' four breweries and 1,700 pubs.

WestLB, one of the partners in the refinancing of Pubmaster last year, had to pull out of the Wolves bid because it has signed contracts with Robert Breare, the chairman of Noble House Leisure, over a separate fund-raising exercise, while WestLB's stockbroking arm is also involved with Noble House Leisure.


according to The Observer, Breare's consortium is now struggling to find the cash for a bid itself.

Pubmaster decided to make a bid for Wolves after its original offer to buy just the company's tenanted houses was rejected. It is believed to have put £470m on the table.

The fight for Wolves has been going on for nine months, since Noble House Leisure, backed by the private equity firm Botts & Co, made an informal offer for the company. A management team, led by Wolves' managing director, David Thompson, failed to secure financing for its own buy-out plan. A deadline of April 20 has been put on all offers.

• 3i has granted exclusivity to Pubmaster to look through's accounts with a view to a bid for the 42-strong chain.

The venture capital company has a 79% stake in, formerly known as Eagle Taverns, and wants an exit to recoup the £7m it invested in 1997.'s outlets include the Shenanigans bar chain, two nightclubs and accommodation attached to its pubs.

Pubmaster is hungry for acquisitions. It is eyeing up Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries' 1,820 pubs and is thought to have considered a bid for Avebury Taverns' 740 tenanted houses.