Property firm Marylebone Warwick Balfour has postponed sale of its Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin hotel portfolio, blaming "current uncertainties".
The MWB sale is the latest in a series of commercial property deals halted as a result of the global liquidity squeeze. However, industry sources said yesterday they believed that the group remained hopeful that the sale would eventually be completed once the market had stabilised.
It is believed that the property company had cut its shortlist of buyers to fewer than five prospective bidders and that under normal circumstances a deal would have been completed before the end of the month.
As recently as last week, sources had insisted the sale of the assets was on track despite the turbulence in global credit markets.
However, in the current climate potential purchasers, who are understood to have offered sums close to £700 million, are thought to have found it increasingly difficult to put together the necessary packages.
The sources were saying yesterday it was "unlikely" the entire sale process would have to restart from scratch but the continued uncertainty made accurate predictions difficult.
MWB currently has a pipeline of six new sites expected to be open by autumn 2008, lifting the entire portfolio to 27 hotels. It is understood the group will continue to look for new sites while the sale process is on hold.
Both packages of hotels had been destined for the planned Vector Hospitality real estate investment trust (REIT), which collapsed in June after failing to win investor support.
The failure to float Vector was also attributed to poor market sentiment following a rapid downturn in confidence in the outlook for European property stocks. MWB appointed Bank of America to oversee the sale of hotels in early July.
One trader said he felt that a "dangerous disconnect" between the expectations of vendors, appetite of buyers and willingness for banks to lend on property transactions had led to a stalemate that could further reduce the single-digit percentage annual commercial property return forecast for 2007.