Sovereign wealth funds for Abu Dhabi and Qatar are front-runners to acquire 42 UK-based Marriott hotels which are being sold out of administration, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal. 

The hotels are being sold by largely state-owned bank Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) and are expected to be sold for between GBP600 million and GBP700 million, the report said without identifying the source.

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Earlier reports in the UK's Sunday Times said the Qatar Investment Authority, which is working on a deal with Blue Coast, an Indian hotels chain, had outbid the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, but that the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority believed it could execute the deal more quickly. The auction, which has been running for several months, is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

RBS took control of the hotels, which were originally owned by hospitality chain Whitbread PLC (WTB.LN), after the failure of talks to restructure loans extended by the bank to the previous owner, a consortium that included an Irish real estate fund and an Israeli property investor.