InterContinental Hotel Group boss Keith Barr has hinted that a deal is imminent to buy another luxury brand.

He told a hotel industry conference in Berlin last week that he hoped to have “more news in a short period”.

There has been no comment on rumours that the targeted brand is Belmond as IHG looks to catch up on rivals Marriott, which bought Starwood for $13.3 billion in 2016, and AccorHotels, which acquired the Fairmount group for almost $3 billion in the same year.

“We’re going to have to do things differently,” Barr told The Sunday Times. “The big deals happened and we weren’t part of them. Our competitors are growing faster than we are.”

Instead of a big deal – which he claimed would be too much for shareholders to swallow – he wants to buy a couple of smaller luxury brands.

He is also launching new brand Avid, which will open its first hotel in Oklahoma City later this year at rates 10%-15% cheaper than IHG-owned Holiday Inn.

Barr is also looking to increase the group’s foothold in Europe by bringing independent hotels under the IHG banner.

Addressing the threat of Airbnb to the hotel industry, he said: “Home sharing has been around for as long as hotels and it’s not an existential threat to the industry.”

People arranging business travel don’t want staff in strangers’ homes, Barr added.

But he admitted that Airbnb had “taken the cream off some of the biggest cities”. He is calling for greater regulation and higher tax on the website.

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