NORTH-East based pub chain, Pubmaster, has changed hands in a multi-million pound deal.

The Hartlepool company, which has about 2,000 tenanted pubs in the UK, has been sold to a business consortium with the working title Pubmistress.

John Sands, Pubmaster's chief executive, said: "We are committed to strengthening our position as a major player in the pubs market, and this transaction supports our dual strategy of further acquisitions and organic growth through continued investment.''

The Rotch Group is a member of the takeover consortium.

The group's chairman, Robert Tchenguiz, said: "Pubmaster has a quality portfolio and management team which continually outperforms the sector.''

How much Pubmaster was sold for is not being disclosed, and no details of job prospects have been revealed. But Pubmasters managers have increased their shareholding after the deal.

l Speculation continues about a future merger of the Wolverhampton and Dudley-owned Camerons Brewery and Castle Eden Brewery