Hey, Starwood, how does it feel to be the belle of the ball? We're betting pretty dang good. The brand has been at the center of a bidding war between Marriott International and Chinese-based Anbang Insurance Group to buy its entire portfolio. This morning, the latter proposed its second bid for the brand with a $13.9 billion offer.
On March 14 Marriott was outbid by Anbang who proposed a $13 billion all-cash offer to trump their $12.2 billion deal. Seven days later, Marriott had stepped back in the ring, upping their bid to $13.6 billion and reportedly earning back Starwood’s favor. "We’re excited to get back on track and get this historic merger together. We think what we can accomplish together is just fabulous,'' Arne Sorenson, Marriott International's CEO told USA TODAY.
However, today’s news confirmed that the Chinese financial institution wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. Up until two years ago, Anbang’s name didn’t mean much to US investors, but now, all eyes are on the insurance conglomerate who’ve been on a recent buying spree in the hospitality industry. The group is offering $82.75 a share in cash for Starwood, topping Marriott’s bid at $79.53 a share. In March, Anbang acquired Hotel del Coronado along with 16 other US properties in a $6.5 billion deal and put in a bid for Starwood at $14 million.
If Marriott takes over Starwood, the brand would be the world’s largest hotel company. Plus with a proven track record, it seems like a solid deal. However, having a new player in the game might not be such a bad thing. Until then, we sit and wait with our palms on our chins watching the back and forth bids like a national debate. It's hotel drama at its finest. Your move, Marriott.
***UPDATE: As of March 31, Anbang has reportedly withdrawn their $14 billion bid, clearing the way for Marriott to finalize the deal. Marriott would have about 1.1 million rooms following its takeover.