Two US investment funds are reportedly in a £1.5 billion battle for control of Travelodge.
Hotel and property giant Starwood Capital is fighting it out with New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management, the Sunday Times reported.
The pair are seen as frontrunners in an auction to buy the UK budget hotel chain, which has more than 500 properties and employs nearly 10,000 people.
Suitors are scrambling towards a final bid deadline at the end of the month. The increasingly competitive process is likely to value Travelodge at £1.5bn or more, the newspaper reported insiders as saying.
The deal is expected to value its operating company at £1 billion. A portfolio of 144 properties is set to change hands for £500 million as part of the buyout.
Apollo last month won an auction for a £1 billion portfolio that includes the 906-room Holiday Inn Kensington Forum in west London, beating Starwood.
Apollo already owns a string of UK brands, including Bella Italia and Café Rouge, after taking over restaurant business Tragus last year.
Starwood is best known for creating the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, now listed in New York.