Marriott, Anbang’s bidding war for Starwood may not be over

Beijing-based insurer can afford to up its offer: experts

From left: Starwood's Thomas Mangas, the W Hotel and Anbang's Wu Xiaohui
From left: Starwood's Thomas Mangas, the W Hotel and Anbang's Wu Xiaohui

The drama around the sale of Starwood Hotels & Resorts may yet continue.

Anbang Insurance Group has the will and the capital to top Marriott International’s $13.6 billion bid, made public Monday, experts told Bloomberg.

“I have to believe there is at least one more act to this play,” Frank Aquila, a partner the at law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, who has no part in the negotiations, told the news service. “Anbang seems to be very aggressive in its recent bids and if it’s worth this much to Marriott, Anbang may well come back with a little bit more.”

Marriott’s bid topped Anbang’s Friday offer of $13.2 billion, which itself was a sweetened version of a previous $12.6 billion bid. As it stands now, Marriott will buy Starwood — which operates hotel brands such as W, Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis — for about $21 in cash and 0.8 Marriott shares for every share of Starwood.

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The new agreement also ups the deal’s breakup fee to $450 million, from $400 million.

“I think there is room for the Anbang consortium to come in at a higher price, even with the $50 million increase in the breakup fee,” Lukas Hartwich of Green Street Advisors told Bloomberg. “It doesn’t appear the market expects a much higher offer, which is interesting given Anbang’s aggressive track record.”

Anbang, which paid $1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2014, is flush with cash, with international ambitions and strong ties to China’s government. The company paid $6.5 billion to the Blackstone Group for the 16-building Strategic Hotels & Resorts portfolio earlier this month. [Bloomberg]Ariel Stulberg