Marriott faces rival bid from China for Starwood

Marriott faces rival bid from China for Starwood

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of Hawaii hospitality workers wonder if they'll be working for an American company or a Chinese one, now that a rival bid has been made for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Marriott International, headquartered in suburban Washington D.C., confirmed Monday that Starwood, which signed an agreement to be acquired by Marriott for $12.18 billion, now has an unsolicited rival bid of $12.84 billion from China's Anbang Insurance Group.

Starwood said Monday the company "will carefully consider" the new bid.

Marriott said Monday it "reaffirmed its commitment" to its original deal.

Anbang, which in 2014 paid $2 billion to acquire New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel, has in recent days been reported offering Blackstone Group billions more to acquire its Strategic Hotels & Resorts, owner of New York's Essex House and 17 other luxury resorts including San Diego's Coronado the Four Seasons at Jackson Hole, Wyo,., where the world's central bankers hold an annual retreat. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Anbang is still pursuing this acquisition, too.

That wouldn't directly affect Hawaii but a Chinese acquisition of Starwood would. Starwood brands and manages the Kyo-ya properties in Waikiki, including the Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider and Princess Kaiulani hotels. Starwood and Marriott are in fact two of the three biggest players in the Hawaii hotel business. The other is Hilton, whose Hilton Hawaiian Village is the world's biggest Hilton campus and one of the few hotels owned outright by that company.

Starwood said Monday the offer from the Chinese company was received Friday, it notified Marriott, and Marriott agreed to waive any objections to Starwood talking to Anbang about it. The period for considering other offers ends Thursday of this week.

Starwood officially still supports the Marriott offer, which was agreed to in November was to close later this year. Starwood shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Marriott deal March 28, so if Anbang is to supplant that offer it has to move fast.

The new offer from Anbang is for $76 a share, and in Monday morning trading speculators drove Starwood share prices higher than that.

The $660 million difference in the two bids is large, but not as large as it first appears, since the Marriott deal includes a $400 million breakup fee. Both offer include spinning off Starwood's timeshare division and giving shareholders the proceeds.

"Marriott will monitor this development," the company said.

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