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Lehman Brothers


is reportedly close to finalizing a deal to acquire struggling U.K. hotel chain Le Meridien.

Lehman is partnering with

Starwood Hotels & Resorts


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in a deal valued at 700 million British pounds, or about $1.24 billion at current exchange rates, according to published reports.

The offer is expected to come sometime this week, matching or beating one two weeks ago from rival U.S. investment bank

Goldman Sachs

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If the deal is successful, Starwood, which has an option to match the competing offer, would operate the chain of luxury hotels.

Le Meridien is privately owned and is best known for its Grosvenor House and Waldorf hotels in central London. The company's creditor banks have been pressuring it to do a deal to pay off millions in outstanding debt.