Leased pub company Punch Taverns has bought rival InnSpired Group for £335m, reinforcing its own presence in the South of England.
As part of the deal, Punch will sell 88 pubs to Admiral Taverns for £22.6m, to avoid falling foul of competition laws.
Francis Patton, customer services director at Punch, said that the company had been tracking InnSpired for some time and had been impressed by the steady growth its management team had achieved over the past few years.
"The InnSpired estate has been well run and we will not be rushing in," said Patton. "The existing management team will continue to run the company, so that we don't lose any good people or best practice within the business. Punch plans a slow, steady absorption."
Punch expects to achieve synergy savings through the deal of £3m per annum.
The group now owns 8,300 pubs in the UK, placing it close behind rival Enterprise Inns, which has 9,000.