Steve Richards, chief executive of Novus Leisure, is reported to have rejected a possible move to Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) amid private equity interest in the bars and clubs operator. According to The Times, Richards favours staying at Novus to oversee an exit for its investors. Last year, Novus held discussions over a sale to Duke Street Capital and, although talks broke down at the eleventh hour, they have stayed in touch. One analyst said: “Although Steve would be ideal for M&B, it is hard to see him giving up the potential to make several million pounds from a sale of Novus. Equally, it would be difficult for M&B, as a quoted company, to match those rewards.” Richards, who has run Novus since 2005, is a former colleague of Bob Ivell, the M&B chairman, from their days at Scottish & Newcastle (S&N. He had been tipped as one of the frontrunners to take the chief executive’s job at the managed pub restaurant operator. Other names mentioned include Jon Adrian Fawcett, formerly the chief operating officer at Punch Taverns, and John Dunsmore, the former S&N and C&C Group chief executive.