Duke Street Capital, the backer of Wagamama, is one of three bidders currently in the running to acquire Laine Pub Company, the Sussex and London-based pub operator, which appointed advisors as it assesses future funding options last October, MCA has learnt.

Private equity firm LDC and Patron, the new backers of Punch, are also believed to be in the running for the 60-strong group, which is believed to be valued at c£45m-£50m.

MCA revealed last year that the Gavin George-led company was working with BDO to assess the best way of funding “the next chapter in our exciting journey”.

The group has been backed by Luke Johnson’s Risk Capital and Graphite Capital since a secondary management buyout in July 2014, at which point the group changed its name from InnBrighton to Laine Pub Company.

George told MCA in December: “We have appointed BDO and they are working with us and our current investors to look at our strategic objectives.

“We have been encouraged by the approaches we have had in recent times, which give a good indication of the strength of the business and its potential to grow further.

“This is about looking to the next chapter in our exciting journey.”

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 week, 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.