Marriott Hands Nomura the initiative

The Japanese investment bank has shrugged off its last remaining rival in the race for Le Méridien.

Marriott International, the US group of hotels, has withdrawn its bid for the Le Méridien hotel chain.

The decision was announced on Thursday night and makes Nomura International, the Japanese investment bank, the sole bidder in the world’s largest hotel auction.

Earlier this week Nomura’s Principal Finance Group, led by Guy Hands, was chosen as preferred bidder for the luxury hotels, with an £1.85bn offer on the table. That was enough to eliminate rival Marriott, whose bid came to a mere £1.7bn.

Marriott’s withdrawal ends a seven months long auction process. Nomura is understood to be keen to complete the transaction as quickly as possible, and expected to refinance the deal by way of a securitisation, as is the bank’s house style.

The 146 Méridien hotels are sold by Compass Group Plc, the UK hotel owner. The majority of the hotels are located in Europe.

When the auction began, analysts predicted the group to fetch as much as £2.2bn, but worsening market conditions soon put downward pressure on the price.