Out with a bang: Anbang reportedly ends bid for Starwood

Chinese insurer had offered $14B for hotel company

The W Hotel Union Square is one of Starwood's New York City hotels
The W Hotel Union Square is one of Starwood's New York City hotels

Anbang Insurance Group is reportedly giving up on its bid to take over Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The move likely ends a two-week bidding war with Marriott International that grabbed headlines around the world.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news late Thursday afternoon.

The decision to end the deal comes a week after Chinese news site Caixin reported that China’s insurance regulator could reject a takeover, citing rules that limit insurance companies to invest no more than 15 percent of their assets abroad. The New York Times also recently questioned the deal’s feasibility, arguing that Starwood would have few options to enforce it.

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Starwood has yet to confirm that Anbang is withdrawing its bid. The Wall Street Journal report cited unnamed sources close to the talks.

Anbang, known for its opaque ownership and aggressive expansion over the past two years, launched a bidding war for Starwood with an unsolicited $13.2 billion offer two weeks ago. Marriott had agreed to buy the rival hotel company last year, but the deal hasn’t closed yet.

Starwood accepted Anbang’s offer, but last week Marriott responded with a new bid worth $13.6 billion. On Monday, Anbang again raised its offer, this time to $14 billion, before withdrawing its bid Thursday.

Despite its Starwood ambitions falling through, Anbang won’t end March empty-handed. Earlier this month, the firm agreed to buy 16 U.S. hotels, including the Essex House on Central Park South, from Blackstone Group for $6.5 billion. Anbang already owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel, which it bought from Blackstone for $1.95 billion last year. — Konrad Putzier