Marriott plans to open over 1,700 hotels

Marriott International said on Monday that it plans to open more than 1,700 hotels and return up to $11 billion to shareholders by 2021 as part of its three-year growth strategy, sending its shares up more than 2 percent.

The owner of Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis luxury hotel brands also forecast its annual profit in a range of $7.65 per share to $8.50 per share by 2021, largely above analysts’ average estimate of $7.72 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Marriott has been criticized recently by activist investor Jonathan Litt who, according to media reports, has urged the company to consider culling its 30 brands to better align itself with competitors such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings.

The opening of 1,700 hotels by 2021 will average more than 500 hotels per year, adding between 275,000 and 295,000 rooms over the next three years, and potentially generating $400 million in fee revenue in 2021.

Marriott added about 386 and 440 hotels in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

During the three-year period, the company plans to pay $1.9 billion to $2 billion in dividends and buy back shares worth $7.6 billion to $9 billion, Marriott said.

The hotel chain had come under scrutiny after it was hit by a huge data breach involving up to 383 million guests in its Starwood hotels reservation system. The breach was disclosed last November.

— Reuters

Ex-UAW leader is charged in Fiat case

A former vice president at the United Automobile Workers was charged Monday in a scheme with Fiat Chrysler executives to buy meals, golf and other perks with the automaker’s money — the highest-ranking official snagged in an investigation that has exposed corruption between labor and management.

The conspiracy charge against Norwood Jewell was filed as a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is likely. At least seven people have pleaded guilty.

Officials at Fiat Chrysler, known as FCA, and the UAW enriched themselves by using company money set aside for a job-training center. The corruption occurred at the same time both sides were negotiating labor agreements.

“We can confirm that we have had professional and productive discussions with the U.S. attorney’s office towards a fair and just resolution,” defense attorney Michael Manley told the Detroit News. “We are confident that when the facts of the case come out as it relates to Mr. Jewell, his decades-long reputation of honorable service to members of the UAW will remain intact.”

Jewell was the senior UAW official dealing with Fiat Chrysler from 2014 through 2016.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Lyft is seeking to raise as much as $2.1 billion in its initial public offering, valuing the firm at almost $20 billion. At the targeted range, the San Francisco-based company's offering will be the biggest from a tech upstart since Snap Inc. went public two years ago, and the largest in the United States so far this year after the partial U.S. government shutdown put a damper on first-quarter listings.

A group of U.S. states is investigating Hyundai and Kia for potential unfair and deceptive acts related to reports of hundreds of vehicle fires, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement on Monday. The South Korean automakers have recalled more than 2.3 million vehicles since 2015 to address various engine fire risks in several recalls.

The future of Alitalia was plunged further into uncertainty on Monday after British budget airline easyJet pulled out of talks to rescue the Italian carrier two weeks before a deadline to save it. Alitalia was put under special administration in 2017 after workers rejected the latest in a long line of rescue plans, leaving the government once again seeking a buyer to save the airline.

Comcast is pooling the advertising power of its NBCUniversal and British-based Sky units to better target viewers worldwide, it said on Monday, a major step by the top U.S. cable TV provider to transform itself into a global media leader. The initiative would allow global advertisers to target specific households based on their interests, widely seen as the future of TV advertising.

— From news services