De Vere Hotels looks set to finally lose its battle to retain a stock market listing with the Alternative Hotel Group current favourite to take the company private.
While the first half of the year saw a flurry of interest that chased the price upwards, the weak half-year results last month has seen price expectations reined in with current speculation tipping a bid at around 820p rather than the 850p mooted a couple of months ago.
The attraction for the Alternative Hotel Group, which is headed by a number of directors from Marylebone Warwick Balfour, the owner of the Malmaison chain, is both its property and the cash generative management business.
Behind AHG are Richard Balfour-Lynn, Jag Singh and Michael Bibring, all main board directors at MWB, plus Joe Shashou, who resigned from the board of MWB a year ago, and Bruce Cave, of Vision Hospitality Asset Management, another former senior MWB executive.
The race for De Vere is still far from over, however, with concerns being raised about the company's management contract with Belfry owner the Quinn Group. The dispute about the 25-year contract is currently at the High Court.
Still thought to be in the bidding are Permira, working with property group Delancey, and Starwood Capital. Out are Blackstone and Spanish chain NH Hoteles.
De Vere itself has come across AHG in the recent past. It was one of the under bidders for Initial Style Conferences.