Mitchells and Butlers is expected to sign a deal this week with Iranian tycoon Robert Tchenguiz, which would see most of its property assets spun off into a joint venture valued at close to £5bn. As part of the deal, which will return £1.5bn to shareholders, M&B will agree to top up the company's pension scheme by about £20m, to reflect the risks posed by taking on more debt. Tim Clarke, chief executive, with the support of most shareholders, has been fighting to retain control of the pubs by establishing a joint venture with Tchenguiz rather than demerging the entire estate into a separate company. The Observer 08/07/07 (Business) page 1