Leisure group Whitbread has confirmed it is in talks to sell some or all of its Marriott hotels in the UK.
Marriott has been hit by weak demand in the luxury hotel sector
Whitbread, which also owns the Travel Inn, Beefeater restaurants and Costa Coffee brands, owns 52 of the upmarket Marriott hotels.
Shares in the group rallied nearly 10% on Friday morning, with analysts speculating on a £1bn price tag for the four-star and five-star hotels.
The company has been increasingly focusing on the budget hotel sector.
In October, Whitbread said it planned to sell half its UK Marriott hotels in 'sale-and-manage back' deals, where it would continue to run the hotels under contract.
This was part of a strategic review with the aim of raising £800m for shareholders.
But Whitbread now looks likely to dispose of all the hotels in an outright sale.
"The company confirms that it is currently in discussions which may or may not lead to the disposal of some or all of these hotel assets," Whitbread said in a statement. Shares in Whitbread were up 82.5 pence at 978.5 pence on Friday.