News of continued weak sales mean Whitbread is facing substantially lower bids for its 235 Beefeater and Brewers Fayre pubs. The figure is likely to be closer to £500m rather than the £550m which insiders had originally expected after customers shunned pubs concentrating on food during the World Cup. Mitchells & Butlers leads the list of interested parties, which could also include Punch Taverns, Greene King and private equity group GI Partners, which recently bought 290 Punch pubs for £571m. The Mail on Sunday (Financial Mail) 16/07/06 page 5