An insider at SFI, the pubs and bars company whose shares are currently suspended at 31p, has denied rumours that its 29-outlet Bar Med chain was on offer for £1 cash, plus the group's estimated £130m of debt.

However, he confirmed to the Financial Times this morning that SFI had been unable to find a "viable" buyer for the group, blaming the "difficult" economic climate for the bids being "lower than the company was hoping for".

The chain is for sale after the company found a £20m hole in its accounts apparently caused by over-inflated assets. It is believed SFI's bankers put a £30m tag on Bar Med but the offers failed to reach £20m.