Mitchells & Butlers will open its books to potential bidders this week but bankers Citigroup and Greenhill have asked for confidentiality agreements. The auction is expected to be over before M&B’s interim results in May. Rival Punch Tavern has proposed 50/50 merger of the two companies to create a £4bn market leader. But several private equity firms are also believed to be interested, especially as, according to The Independent on Sunday, more than £60m in bankers’ fees has been trimmed from the £2.5bn sale. M&B, with a market capitalisation of £1.8bn, effectively put itself up for sale when it announced a strategic review after losing £391m on a property joint venture. Chairman Roger Carr will step down once the review is completed. He will be replaced by former Dairy Crest chief executive Drummond Hall. The Sunday Express 02/03/08 (Financial) page 1 The Independent on Sunday 02/03/08 (Business) page 2