Robert Tchenguiz’s R20 investment vehicle approached Spirit Group in the past fortnight with a view to buying the 2,000-strong pub business, the Financial Times reveals. The newspaper says Punch and Mitchells & Butlers are also still interested in buying the business from Texas Pacific Group, Blackstone and Merrill Lynch but a mooted joint bid from Enterprise Inns and Cinven has been ditched. Tchenguiz, who bought 160 high-street bars and pubs from Laurel last year, and Yates, in April, is thought to be one of the strongest bidders for Spirit which only a week ago agreed to sell its high-street pubs and bars to Alchemy for £177m. Financial Times (Companies & Markets) 01/10/05 page 15