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PARSIPPANY, NJ-Cendant Corp., the largest US travel and real estate services company based here, signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy Ramada International Hotels & Resorts from Marriott International. Ramada International is primarily a franchised brand of 204 hotels totaling more than 27,700 rooms in 26 countries.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed pending the signing of a formal sales agreement. The deal also must clear with regulatory authorities, and Cendant officials expect the whole thing to be finalized “within the next few months,” according to a spokesperson. Transition plans were also not disclosed.

The deal will also combine the Ramada brand under one roof. Back in April, Marriott sold both the domestic Ramada brand and the Days Inn brand to Cendant for a reported $200 million.

“The transaction will unite the Ramada brand as a worldwide entity and further demonstrate our commitment to the brand,” says Steven A. Rudnitsky, chairman and CEO of Cendant’s Hotel Group. “When completed, this purchase will extend our control of the brand and integrate two systems currently led separately by Cendant and Marriott.”

Marriott had bought the rights to Ramada through a larger acquisition back in 1997. After that acquisition, Marriott continued to license the Ramada name in the US to Cendant under existing long-term agreements. A little more than two years ago, the two companies had formed a joint venture called Two Flags to license the trademarks for both Ramada and Days Inn in the US.

Cendant had already been set to launch what Rudnitsky terms “a major upgrading and repositioning of the Ramada brand throughout the US and Canada.” Cendant currently franchises 819 Ramada properties totaling more than 94,000 rooms in the US, and another 71 properties totaling more than 7,500 rooms in Canada. Besides Ramada and Days Inn, the Cendant Hotel Group also franchises the Super 8, Travelodge and Howard Johnson brands.

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