US investment bank Lehman Brothers has taken control of troubled hotel operator Le Méridien after striking a deal last week to assume its outstanding debt, totalling some $1.3bn (£720m).
The rescue package, which was put together in conjunction with US hotels group Starwood, covers Le Méridien's 126 international hotels, but not the 11 former Le Méridien properties in the UK and Ireland now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland.
Lehman will now become the chain's principal lender and, with Starwood, will renegotiate the financing of Le Méridien over the coming months.
The discussions will include what role, if any, Starwood will play in the management of Le Méridien's operations.
Meanwhile, Le Méridien said occupancy levels and revenue per available room were running ahead of 2002, and in November were up on the same month the year before.
Trading was "showing an improving trend", said the group
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