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Following an announcement on November 16, we’ve been progressing under the assumption that Marriott would be acquiring Starwood sometime in the middle of this year. We’ve heard from Marriott’s CEO, the chain’s VP of Loyalty, TPG himself attended a forum to discuss potential changes to Marriott’s program, and Hyatt even made a play for Starwood’s top-tier elites. Without a competing bid on the table, it seemed that everything would move forward as expected — that is, until today.
This morning, Starwood informed investors that another company has made a bid to acquire the brand. Marriott has released its own statement, which references a Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, as the potential purchaser. Anbang has offered to acquire Starwood for $76 per share, which tops Marriott’s offer of about $72 per share. Investors are taking the offer seriously, with Starwood’s stock up nearly 8% today.
Here’s what Starwood had to say about the bid:
Starwood’s Board of Directors has not changed its recommendation in support of Starwood’s merger with Marriott. The Board, in consultation with its legal and financial advisors, will carefully consider the outcome of its discussions with the Consortium in order to determine the course of action that is in the best interest of Starwood and its stockholders. The Consortium has not completed diligence and there are a number of matters to be resolved in the Consortium’s proposal. There can be no assurance that discussions will result in a binding proposal from the Consortium or that a transaction with the Consortium will be approved or consummated.
Meanwhile, here’s Marriott’s input:
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) today reaffirmed its commitment to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) to create the world’s largest hotel company. The combined company will offer stockholders significant equity upside and greater long term value driven by a larger global footprint, wider choice of brands for consumers, improved economics to owners and franchisees leading to accelerated global growth and continued strong returns. Marriott is confident that the previously announced merger agreement is the best course for both companies.
It’s clear that Marriott still wants the deal to go through as planned, as does Starwood, but the latter company must explore the new bid as well.
Ultimately, the decision is up to Starwood’s shareholders — a vote is scheduled for just two weeks from now, on March 28, which explains why Anbang made its play today. Marriott has issued a waiver permitting Starwood to discuss the bid with Anbang between now and midnight on Thursday, so we may hear more about this potential change in plans by the end of this week.
What do you make of this new plan to acquire Starwood?
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