Compass is rumoured to be in exclusive negotiations with Permira, the venture capitalist, over the sale of Travelodge and Little Chef.

Speculation has put the price offered by Permira, formerly Schroder Ventures, at between £750m to £800m. Estimates made when the businesses were put up for sale priced them at between £600m and £700m.

Permira is understood to be considering several options, including securitisation and sale and leaseback of the assets.

Several leading industry figures are thought to have been earmarked to run the brands.

If successful, Permira will have seen off competition from Apax Partners, Cinven, Starwood Capital and Sun Capital, Hugh Osmond’s investment vehicle.