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Nomura leads race for Thistle

NOMURA, the acquisitive Japanese bank, is the frontrunner in the race to buy the Thistle Hotel Group, in a deal worth up to pounds 1.5bn. The finance house is believed to be in exclusive negotiations with Brierley Investments, the chain's major shareholder. Nomura is thought to have pulled ahead of a shortlist of five preferred bidders, which also includes venture capital group Blackstone and French hotel operator Accor.

Thistle, which owns 91 hotels around the country, has strong presence in London, where it owns 24 hotels, including the Tower Thistle at Tower Bridge and the Mount Royal at Marble Arch.