Leisure group Whitbread is giving up control of its Marriott UK hotels in a deal which is set to raise at least £1 billion over two years.
Whitbread has agreed to set up a joint venture with Marriott International, the US owner of the brand, which will hold the four-star and five-star hotels until they are sold.
Under the terms of the deal, it will put 46 hotels in the UK offering 8,102 rooms into the joint venture. Six are located in London, 31 in the regions - including the Birmingham Marriott - and nine are classified as country clubs.
It will receive £710 million this year with the balance of the transaction dependent on the proceeds of the final disposal of the hotels, which it has operated under a franchise agreement since 1995.
The move will see £ 400 million returned to shareholders via a special dividend and enables Whitbread to focus on the budget hotel sector, where its Premier Travel Inn chain leads the market with a 40 per cent share.
Around £100 million will be spent by Whitbread on closing the gap in its pension fund and the rest of the cash will go towards repaying debt.
Whitbread said the hotels would now be operated by Marriott under long-term management contracts which would continue after the hotels are sold.
Until news of the deal analysts had expected Whitbread to sell and "manage back" only half of its Marriott properties rather than agree on their outright disposal.
However, Mr Parker said the decision to exit the upmarket hotels business was taken because it was considered too costly for the returns that were generated.
The deal is expected to be completed by May 5.