Quinlan Private, the Irish property investor, has emerged as the leading early contender to buy Marylebone Warwick Balfour's chain of boutiques hotels, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. MWB originally wanted a £450m sale-and-leaseback deal, but the group now intends to sell the 19 existing hotels plus a pipeline of seven due to open next year along with the real estate for more than £700m. Quinlan recently paid more than Eu1bn (£677m) for the 20-strong Jurys Inn chain and manages over Eu10bn worth of global property assets. A source close to MWB said the group was looking for a "premium price" and a multiple of about 20 because the hotels were running at 80% occupancy. The Sunday Telegraph 15/07/07 (Business) page 2