Nick Leslau has joined the £1bn battle for Whitbread’s David Lloyd Leisure division. Sunday Times

Leslau has teamed up with Mid Ocean Partners, private-equity owner of the LA Fitness chain, in a deal likely to be worth £600m-£700m. It is understood that the plan is for Mid Ocean to sell and lease back the bulk of David Lloyd's property to Leslau’s Prestbury investment vehicle.

Mid Ocean is bidding alone, but Prestbury has chosen as its preferred property partner.

Mid Ocean is bidding against Asif Aziz's Criterion Capital; London & Regional, which owns Next Generation Clubs; and Simon Halabi, who owns the Esporta chain.

David Lloyd is expected to sell for between £900m and £950m.