Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group plans to sell its £495m hotel assets in the open market.

In response to criticism from its largest shareholder Mercury Real Estate Advisors, which owns 15.8% of MWB, MWB said that maximising the group’s value was of paramount importance to the whole board.

Mercury yesterday launched a withering attack on chief executive Richard Balfour-Lynn in connection with his role as architect of Vector Hospitality, the hotel company which pulled its flotation two weeks ago. It called for a sale of the hotel assets that were planned to be sold by MWB to the proposed hotel REIT.

Chairman Eric Sanderson wrote to Mercury last night to refute the various allegations and points made in that letter. The Board said it would continue with its policy of realising value for MWB's assets by the end of December 2008 and intended to ‘vigorously pursue’ its plans to sell the Malmaison group property assets during 2007.

It defended its conduct during the failed Vector flotation and said the proposed sale to Vector of the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin portfolios was overseen by a committee that was ‘neither involved financially nor in any other way with Vector Hospitality’. It said independent valuations were prepared by CBRE Hotels and DTZ Debenham.

MWB said shareholders were aware that the £495.1m sale and leaseback transaction agreed was more than £90m higher than the independent valuation of the properties in December last year.