After officially putting itself up for sale a year ago, Starwood Hotels & Resorts seems to be moving forward with Marriott International; however, there’s still a chance that Chinese investor, Anbang Insurance Group may purchase the company at the last minute.
After news broke earlier this year that Starwood had accepted an offer from Anbang, after previously being linked to Marriott, many were surprised, despite Anbang courting Starwood since May of 2015. Anbang’s CEO, Wu Xiaohui, had entered a non-binding agreement with Starwood’s then-interim CEO, Adam Aron and current CEO, Thomas B. Mangas, on August 29, 2015.
Negotiations continued through November 2015, until Starwood announced its merger agreement with Marriott for an estimated $12.2 billion on November 16. Under the agreement, Starwood stockholders would receive 0.92 shares of Marriott common stock, plus $2 for each share of Starwood common stock. On March 1, 2016, Starwood and Marriott announced they had cleared pre-merger anti-trust reviews in both the United States and Canada. At that point, the deal was expected to close by mid-June.
Everything changed on March 10, when Anbang sent Starwood an unsolicited, non-binding, all-cash offer, valued at approximately $13 billion. Starwood requested and was subsequently granted a waiver from Marriott in order to discuss the new proposal from Anbang. A week later, amid negotiations over Marriott’s $400 million termination fee, Starwood called off it’s deal with Marriott and received an official, binding proposal from Anbang. Under the deal, Starwood would have operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Anbang’s consortium. Starwood accepted the $13.2 billion proposal and issued a press release confirming the news.
In the meantime, Marriot’s board had gathered to review their options. By March 20, Marriott had sent over a new proposal, worth $13.6 billion, which Starwood accepted. On March 21, the two companies announced they would proceed with their merger agreement under the new terms. Shareholder meetings were held by both companies on April 8.
With news of Starwood being the first US hotel company to do business in Cuba in nearly 60 years and the possibility of the two companies forming the largest hotel company in the world – it seems the Starwood and Marriott merger will soon be a done deal. Although, there is still a possibility of Anbang submitting a new proposal, considering the insurance company was prepared to pay half of Marriott’s termination fee and had, at one time, proposed a cash offer of more than $14 billion.