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Last Updated: Monday, 30 August, 2004, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
WestLB to sell travel firm stake
A plane coming in to land
A hotels group may take a stake in Europe's largest travel firm
German bank WestLB is in "serious talks" to sell its stake in Europe's largest travel group TUI, in a deal worth 900m euros ($1.08bn, 606m).

TUI's brands include Thomson Holidays and Lunn Poly in the UK.

WestLB chief executive Thomas Fischer told the Financial Times that he wants to sell the stake by the end of 2004.

Mr Fischer refused to comment on potential buyers, but reports suggest TUI's Spanish associate Riu Hotels is a likely buyer.

WestLB wants as much of its 31.3% stake as possible to go to one investor or consortium.

Barcelo, another Spanish hotel chain, is also reportedly interested in the TUI holding.

The Reuters news agency, quoting unnamed sources, said Barcelo has presented an offer to WestLB as part of a larger group.

Meanwhile, the German stock exchange is expected to announce on 3 September that TUI will stay in the blue-chip DAX index.

Its position was threatened earlier this month when Europe's top drugs distributor, Celesio, overtook the firm in the list of the country's most valuable listed companies.

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