MWB has put its sale of its £700m Malmaison and Hotel du Vin hotel chain on ice citing the global credit crunch as hindering the deal.

Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group said in a stock exchange announcement today that its board had ‘delayed the sale of the Group's Malmaison and Hotel du Vin property portfolio and business as a result of the current uncertainties in the markets.’

A spokesman for MWB said that the sale had ‘definitely not been pulled or withdrawn from the market’ and there were still a number of interested buyers but because of liquidity issues in the debt markets it was unable to sell the portfolio at this time.

MWB announced the sale plan after market turmoil and confusion over its structure also led to the withdrawal of a plan to create a REIT, called Vector, that would have bought the hotel chains.

The flotation was pulled after US-based Mercury Real Estate Advisors, which owns 15.8% of MWB, called for the portfolio to be immediately put up for sale. It criticized Balfour-Lynn and said he was not acting in the best interests of all shareholders.

MWB currently has a pipeline of six new sites expected to be open by autumn 2008, lifting the entire portfolio to 27 hotels. It is understood the group will continue to look for new sites while the sale process is on hold.