Rumours are rife that the contenders to buy InterContinental's UK Holiday Inn brand will be whittled down to only two next week.
Four bids for the properties made it through to the second round of discussions at the end of December.
The offers, understood to be in the region of £1b, came from Morgan Stanley's real estate arm, Goldman Sachs's Whitehall property fund, US venture capitalist Blackstone's property division, and Lehman Brothers Real Estate.
Seventy-five hotels are involved in the deal, but only the buildings are being sold to free funds for future growth. The group will keep the management contracts.
A spokesman for InterContinental said: "There has been healthy interest in the portfolio, and discussions have been progressing well.
"We're not just looking at the top line but also the quality and length of the management contracts attached to the purchase price, as we'll be keeping the management contracts," he added.
Jones Lang LaSalle and Citigroup are handling the sale. Neither would comment.