Stonegate, the TDR Capital-backed managed pub operator, is understood to be running a slide rule over Barracuda Pub Company, the c.200-strong pub group, prior to a possible bid for the business, M&C Report has learnt. It is thought that Stonegate is one of a number of parties, including private equity groups, which have shown an interested in the operator of the Smith & Jones chain. Last month, Barracuda, which is led by Mark McQuater, appointed McQueen to seek up to £200m of new investment to help it expand its estate. It is thought that consolidation opportunities were also to be explored, including a sale to an industry rival. In 2009, Barracuda completed a restructuring of its debt, which saw its banking partners undertake a debt-for-equity swap, assuming a significant stake in the business. The amount of debt in place at Barracuda was reduced by £84m to £163m. The company recently announced it would be concentrating on its two core brands going forward – Smith & Jones and the student friendly Varsity. A successful deal for Barracuda would take the 552-strong Stonegate, which is led by Ian Payne, to around 750 managed sites. That size of estate would place it as a serious rival to JD Wetherspoon in terms of high street presence. Stonegate completed the acquisition of 333 Mitchells & Butlers wet-led pubs last year, and in June this year merged with Yates’s and Slug & Lettuce operator Town & City to create a 552-strong managed company.