Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. acquired the senior debt of Le Meriden Hotels & Resorts Ltd for $1.3 billion and have entered into exclusive talks concerning the recapitalization the struggling hotel chain.

Negotiations will take place over the next several months says Allison Reid, Starwood spokeswoman. After that, a determination will be made about the next step for London-based Le Meridien and its 120 upscale and resort properties. "We’ll do are due diligence, look at the numbers, and look at what makes the most economic sense for Le Meridien and Starwood shareholders," says Reid. With a strong brand and a significant presence in Europe, Le Meridien is attractive from a distribution standpoint with assets and a customer base is complementary to Starwood’s, says Reid. Starwood, based in White Plains, NY, owns 740 hotels around the world under a number of brands, including Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, and W.