Marriott International is back on track to purchase Starwood Hotels & Resorts, this time for $13.6 billion, following an unexpected offer from China’s Anbang Insurance Group that resulted in a bidding war between the two suitors.
Starwood said Monday it had accepted Marriott’s sweetened bid. The Bethesda company had initially offered $12.2 billion in November.
“This revised agreement offers superior value for Starwood’s shareholders,” the companies said in a joint statement.
Marriott first announced its plans to take over Starwood in November. It seemed like a done deal until Anbang, which is leading a group of investors, entered the picture last week, offering up cash and derailing Marriott’s plans.
The bidding war may not be over. Anbang can still counter-offer for Starwood, which is based in Stamford, Conn., and operates brands such as Sheraton, Westin and W Hotels.
Under Marriott’s new proposal, Starwood shareholders would receive $21 in cash and 0.8 shares of Marriott for each share of Starwood, up from its previous offer of $2 in cash and 0.92 shares of Marriott for each share of Starwood. If the deal is completed, it would create the world’s largest hotel company, with 1.1 million rooms around the world.
“We regretted the high use of equity in the deal that was announced in November,” Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive of Marriott, said in a call with Wall Street analysts Monday. “Now with the opportunity that was presented in the last week, we have the ability to increase our bid [and] to shift more consideration to cash and away from equity.”
Sorenson was speaking from Cuba, where he is accompanying President Obama on a historic trip to the country. He emphasized Marriott’s expertise in running hotels and its large loyalty rewards program as assets to Starwood, and said he expects the combined company to save $250 million in annual costs within two years of the deal’s completion. That figure is $50 million higher than the company’s earlier estimates.
“We’ve been working intensely, since we announced this deal in November, to prepare for integration and of course to understand each others’ organizations and structures and start to think about how to meld those into one organization,” he said in the call.
Sorenson also offered details on how it might combine its 19 brands with Starwood’s 11. He singled out Starwood’s St. Regis, W Hotels and Element brands as among the most promising prospects for growth and expansion.
“Generally, we have looked at the brand line-up and we see a lot that we like,” Sorenson said. “We think St. Regis will be a brand that we continue to grow and probably see its growth accelerate. It can be positioned in a place that is distinct from Ritz-Carlton and it can be another brand that we can use in the fast-growing luxury tier around the world, particularly in Asia.”
Shareholders of Marriott and Starwood are set to vote on the agreement April 8. If the acquisition goes through, it is expected to be completed by mid-2o16.
Anbang, which two years ago purchased the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel for $1.95 billion from Hilton Worldwide, has been expanding aggressively in recent years.
Anbang’s consortium also includes two private equity firms: Primavera Capital Group, which is based in Beijing, and J.C. Flowers & Co. in New York. On Friday, the group boosted offer for Starwood to $13.2 billion in cash, or $78 per share, up from $12.8 billion, or $76 per share, earlier in the month.
If Starwood pulls out of the agreement, it would have to pay Marriott a termination fee of $450 million, up from $400 million in the previous agreement.