Tension is mounting as Thistle Hotels prepares to announce who will buy all or part of its 91-strong hotels chain.
Less than two weeks ago, Thistle, the UK's second-largest hotels operator, drew up a list of five bidders after making sales presentations to more than a dozen potential buyers.
The bidders are understood to include financial buyers and other hotel groups, mainly from overseas.
A Thistle spokesman said: "The shortlist will come down to two in the next week or so. From there it will be for the board to decide how it is best to proceed."
If Thistle, which owns hotels in London and the provinces, cannot find a buyer for the whole chain it may have to break up the £1.4b business.