Chinese insurance giant Anbang has denied it is eyeing up the FTSE 100-listed hotels chain InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in a £7bn deal.
Anbang Insurance Group had held talks with City bankers about launching a takeover bid for IHG, which owns the Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Candlewood Suites brands, the Sunday Times reported.
However, a spokesman for InterContinental told Bloomberg Anbang "has no plans to make a bid and is not considering an offer for InterContinental". He declined to give any further comment.
The hotel group has been a frequent subject of M&A speculation in recent years. Last October, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt were reportedly in talks over an IHG takeover deal.
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At the end of March, Anbang walked away from a $14bn (£10.7bn) takeover of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, citing "market considerations".
Starwood was later snapped up by Marriott International for $12.4bn.
The Chinese insurance titan's portfolio already includes a number of hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria New York, which it bought from US private equity group Blackstone in 2014 for nearly $2bn.
In March, Blackstone agreed to a $6.5bn sale of 16 prime property US hotels owned by Strategic Hotels & Resorts, including New York's JW Marriott Essex House Hotel and the Westin St Francis in San Francisco.
Last week, InterContinental announced its profits before tax had dropped 35 per cent to $398m in the first six months of 2016.
Its total income also slid more than eight per cent as revenues in Europe and China took steep dives. Sales in China fell more than half to $55m, while key European locations such as Paris suffered from lower booking rates in the wake of terrorist attacks.
However, a key industry metric of revenue available per room was up two per cent in the first half of the year.
IHG declined to comment. Anbang was not immediately available for comment.