Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

March 14 2016

Is The Marriott-Starwood Deal In Danger?

David McMillin

Don’t call it the biggest hotel chain just yet.

On Monday morning, news surfaced that a group of Chinese investors led by Anbang Insurance Group made an offer to buyout Starwood. The deal looks a bit more attractive that Marriott’s offer, too. The Chinese consortium’s unsolicited proposal to acquire Starwood is valued at $76 per share while Marriott’s current proposal is currently valued at $63.74 per share. Those numbers translate to approximately $12.8 billion from the Anbang-led group versus approximately $11 billion from Marriott.

The hotel industry will be watching very closely until midnight on Thursday. Marriott granted Starwood a waiver to consider the offer, and the company has until 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on March 17 to decide. It’s going to be a busy few days for Starwood’s Board.

“Starwood’s Board of Directors has not changed its recommendation in support of Starwood’s merger with Marriott,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

The timing of the surprise bid isn’t ideal. Marriott and Starwood shareholders are expected to vote on the initial merger on March 28. If Starwood backs out of the deal, the company will need to pay Marriott a termination fee of $400 million in cash.

This isn’t the first move to acquire valuable US hotel properties and brand names. As uncertainty in the Chinese stock market worries Asian investors, The Wall Street Journal reports that many are looking to US real estate for more stability. “Anbang’s move is the latest by Chinese companies looking to snap up properties in the US, as they view the high-quality real estate as a haven for savings,” Joshua Jamerson wrote on Monday.

In fact, Anbang’s Starwood offer isn’t its only US deal in the works. The insurer recently purchased the Waldorf Astoria in New York for a record-setting $1.95 billion and has an offer on the table to to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts' robust portfolio of Four Seasons, Marriott, Starwood, AccorHotels, and InterContinental properties.

Stay tuned to PCMA.org for the latest developments. In the meantime, watch Marriott’s CEO Arne Sorenson discuss the future of meetings in this PCMA ondemand feature. The program is free for PCMA members.

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