Patron Capital has taken the lead in its bid to acquire a stake in Laine Pub Company, MCA understands.

The private equity firm, which acquired 1,300 Punch pubs last year, is understood to have beaten competition from LDC and Wagamama backer Duke Street Capital.

If successful the deal would see Patron back the existing management team lead by chief executive Gavin George.

MCA revealed in October that Laine had appointed BDO to assess its future funding options.

The 60-strong group, which is currently backed by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners and Graphite Capital, is believed to be valued at £45m to £50m.

The group underwent a transformative year in 2017 after boosting its London estate to 19, with the acquisition of six sites from New Pub Company and a further two from the Flynn family. It has also launched the first sites under its Managed Investment joint venture with Ei Group.

In December, the company acquired the four-strong Distinct Group, taking its portfolio to 60

Last month, the group reported that like-for-like turnover grew 11% in the year to 30 June, to £35m.

The growth was driven by the group’s expanding London estate, which achieved 22.5% like-for-like sales growth to £9.8m. During the period, EBITDA at Laine increased 12% to £4.6m.