Alchemy Partners, the private equity company, is understood to be in exclusive talks to acquire Spirit Group’s City Day & Night division, M&C Report has learnt. The 178-strong package was put up for sale in April following a strategic review. It includes the Bar 38, Henry’s and Squares brands, as well as a clutch of nightclubs and some high street pubs. Alchemy, led by Jon Moulton, has emerged as the preferred bidder although several other parties are known to have looked at the business. These include the former Laurel chief executive Ian Payne backed by TDR Capital, a consortium led by former Pubmaster boss John Sands plus Robert Tchenguiz’s acquisitive private equity group, R20. The value of the sale is thought to be up to £200m. It is understood that Peter Brook, who was previously chief executive of InnSpired when it was owned by Alchemy, will lead a management team to run the business. The imminent deal would explain why Brook, who had agreed to join Pubfolio, the 800-strong tenanted pub company, as acquisitions director announced last week that he had decided not to take the position. Deutsche Bank is understood to be handling the sale after Fleurets, the property agent, undertook a valuation of the business. The estate, around half of which is freehold or long-term lease, includes up to 10 nightclubs as well as trophy assets such as the Tattershall Castle, a converted boat moored on The Thames on London’s Embankment that recently underwent a £4.4m refurbishment. The businesses last year produced ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of around £30m although sources privy to the trading information suggest that ebidta for the first half of the current year, which included Christmas, slipped to £12.9m. Food sales account for less than 10% of the turnover of the estate. It is thought that proceeds from the sale of the City Day & Night business will be used to pay down debt. Alchemy declined to comment on the story. For more details plus all the latest news on Spirit Group, read M&C Report - out next week.