Six Continents? At least it wasn't "Inn Continents"! That's the joke that's been keeping the wags tittering this week.

Bass plc's choice of new name may have a raised a few external chuckles , but

it seems it hasn't gone down universally well with the rank and file in Bass's pubs and restaurants business. The simple reason is that the new epithet is seen as clearly defining the company's long-term strategy as an international hotel operator. Six Continents doesn't seem to have too much to do with a largely UK-based retail operation.

Chief executive Tim Clarke has been at pains in recent months to play down talk of a demerger of the company's two wings, stressing the importance of branded restaurants and bars to the business. But the issue is now out in the open again.

The logic for a split is apparent, and openly recognised by Clarke and his board. But a bit like Tony Blair and the Euro, the question is about price and timing.

Insiders believe the ultimate decision may also depend on Clarke's personal ambitions. He has a soft spot for retail and may not see himself running a hotel business with a large proportion of its operations in the United States. He has previously turned down a trans-Atlantic move. But the retail arm would probably need to be bigger and more European focussed for him to stay on that side of the fence once a split came.

But Bass, soon to be Six Continents, is not the only one with demerger pushing up the agenda. The issue is likely to be raised at Scottish & Newcastle when it announces its results this week. With S&N growing as an international brewer what is it doing with a predominantly UK retail business? A familiar question, and again with a familiar answer. Price and timing are likely to be the determining factors.

Those two elements also why this weekend's speculation that Nomura is considering the £1.3bn sell-off of the Unique Pub Co should come as no surprise. Exit has always been on Guy Hands agenda, and so far he has consistently made a profit on his pub disposals. With Inn Partnership and the newly acquired Voyager still being developed, it may be that Unique has matured enough for disposal through a trade sale or float.

Talk that Hands may also be looking to invest in breweries could also be on the mark, as old fashioned manufacturers in need of a turn-around have always been attractive to the financial investor.