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