Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has categorically denied a report that it had approached Simon Emeny of Fuller’s and Mike Tye of Spirit Pub Company regarding its vacant chief executive position. In response to a story in yesterday’s Financial Times, executive chairman Bob Ivell, who has been overseeing the search for a chief executive since October, told M&C Report: “I can categorically say that we have not approached these two guys. We have a shortlist of three for the role and I am happy with how that process and the search for non-executives is progressing.” It is understood that Emeny, who is group managing director at Fuller’s, is being lined up to take on the chief executive role at the Chiswick-based brewer and pub operator, while Tye, who has previously worked with Ivell, has only been chief executive of Spirit since the turn of the year. Ivell wouldn’t be drawn on reports that Steve Richards, head of Novus Leisure had been approached regarding the role that has been vacant since the departure of Adam Fowle last March. It is thought that a number of leading candidates are wary of taking the job until after the plans of leading shareholder Joe Lewis become clear. Lewis is believed to be preparing to make another bid for the company in April. Takeover Panel rules prevent him from doing so until then after his aborted attempt to acquire the Harvester and Toby Carvery operator last year.