Scottish and Newcastle could be forced into a merger with any pub estate demerged from Six Continents to deliver value to shareholders, according to one analyst.

Stuart Price of WestLB Panmure, said: "On our estimates, S&N needs a cash injection and quickly. It has £3bn of debt and is committed to maintaining dividend yield of about 5%.

"A SixC and S&N pub merger could yield £2.6bn and gives S&N an opportunity to deliver a critical blow to Coors. The other route - selling 1,000 pubs to the Royal Bank of Scotland - is one pub deal too many, and the remaining 500 will under-perform."