Alternative Asset Investment Management (AAIM), the celebrity property fund backed by Sir Alex Ferguson and and pop music mogul Simon Cowell is to make its first pub investment. Sunday Times

AAIM is in exclusive talks to buy 279 surplus pubs from Marston’s for £80m.

It is understood that the purchase will form the foundation for an empire of more than 1,500 pubs, worth about £500m, to be built up over the next few years.

AAIM has hired Colin Rowlinson, former finance director of the Yates chain, from Nomura, the Japanese financial group, to lead the expansion.