Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries extended its deadline for offers for the company by 15 days to April 20 on Friday (March 9) after what it called "recent increased bid interest in the group".

Earlier in the week Robert Breare finally submitted a bid for W&D, seven months after first expressing an interest. However Breare claimed he still needed more time to conduct due diligence across the group, which runs four breweries and 1,700 pubs.

Breare's company, Noble House Leisure, which is backed by venture capital group Botts and advised by CSFB, has filed its bid at 500 pence a share, valuing W&D at £472m.

Insiders say there are "a number" of serious bid proposals for the company, including one from the company's management, led by managing director David Thompson.

W&D's independent directors, and its investment bank, N M Rothchild, exasperated by a takeover saga that had already dragged on since last August, set a deadline last week of April 5 for bids to be submitted.

However, on Friday a statement from the company said: "As a result of the recent increased interest expressed in W&D, the independent directors of W&D have decided to extend the deadline for receipt of formal offers from noon on Thursday April 5 2001 until noon on Friday April 20 2001."

Thompson and the company's management had been working with the venture capital group UBS Capital, the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS Warburg on its own bid of more than 500p a share. However, industry sources believe UBS is on the point of, or may have already, pulled out.

Another interested party, the privately-owned Pubmaster pub chain, the pub chain owned by the Tchenquiz family and the German bank WestLB, has expressed interest in the group, after initially showing interest only in its tenanted estate.

Breare's indicative bid last August, also at 500p, led to the launch of W&D's strategic review in October which effectively put the company up for sale and prompted Thompson and two other executives to plan their own bid.

Shareholders had pressured the company to sell up after a continually poor share price performance. The group underperformed the FTSE all-share index by 65pc over the five years until rumours of a bid surfaced last August.