Shareholders approve Marriott's increased $13.6B offer to purchase Starwood Hotels

The merger would merge 30 hospitality brands, including Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Hotels, and Starwood’s Sheraton and W Hotels.

By Doug G. Ware

BETHESDA, Md., April 8 (UPI) -- Shareholders on Friday approved a proposed $13 billion buyout of Starwood Hotels by Marriott International -- a deal that would create the world's largest hotelier.

The vote of confidence is a positive sign in what has been a bumpy acquisition process, which began five months ago.


"With today's successful stockholder approval milestone, we are that much closer to completing our transaction," Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement. "Our teams continue to plan the integration of our two companies, and we are committed to a timely and smooth transition."

Starwood CEO Thomas Mangas added that the vote is a "significant step toward closing" and expressed optimism that the merger will soon be complete.

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"There is no doubt that this transaction puts our company on the best path forward and we remain excited about the opportunity," he said.

Friday's vote comes just a week after the Chinese Anbang Insurance Group withdrew its $14 billion bid for Connecticut-based Starwood.

Competitive bidding for the hotel corporation in recent weeks has forced Marriott to sweeten its deal since the merger was originally announced, at a price of $12.2 billion in November.


Last month, Starwood accepted the offer from Anbang but was forced to realign with Marriott when the consortium backed out.

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The current proposal would give Starwood shareholders 0.8 shares of Marriott stock (Nasdaq: MAR) and $21 for each of their shares (NYSE: HOT) on the New York Stock Exchange, which had risen 74 cents by mid-Friday. Shares of Marriott International were up a little over a dollar by Friday afternoon.

The deal, still awaiting regulatory approvals, is expected to be complete sometime this summer. It would merge 30 hospitality brands, including Marriott's Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard and Renaissance Hotels with Starwood's St. Regis, Sheraton and W Hotels.

If the deal is approved by regulators, Starwood said it would likely take another year or two before the two companies fully begin operating as one.

"We don't anticipate launching a newly combined program until 2018. This means SPG will continue to run separately until then," Starwood stated on its website Friday.

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