Shares in the Salisbury-based pub operator soared 52p to 308.5p yesterday after it admitted it was in takeover talks. Ushers, the brewer and pub operator that recently took over a contract to brew Gibbs Mew's famous Bishop's Tipple ale, is another likely suitor, as is Enterprise Inns, the acquisitive pub group. Some larger pub chains such as Greene King are understood to have ruled themselves out.
Analysts believe the group could fetch around pounds 45m, although a bidding war could push that figure much higher.
Nomura became the largest pub landlord in the UK with the purchase of the Inntrepreneur chain and is looking for more acquisitions in the sector. It owns William Hill bookmakers, Angel Trains and 57,000 army homes.