Friday, 23 September 2016

Starwood & Marriott Merger Approved Without Any Conditions

Chinese regulators granted antitrust approval to Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood, the last remaining hurdle to closing the merger.

The chains said they expect the deal to close before the market opens in New York.

The approval follows Chinese authorities’ decision, which the companies announced Aug. 8, to take an extended look at the merger for up to 60 more days. The regulators made their decision before the Oct. 8 deadline expired.

There was some suspicion that the extension may have been motivated by the Chinese government and/or regulators’ desires to extract divestitures or other assets from either Marriott or Starwood during the approval process. However, a Marriott spokesperson said, “The transaction was approved without any conditions.”

Marriott and Starwood had said all along that they expected the $12.2 billion deal to go through even as it had sailed through all other regulatory approvals.

The deal, when it closes later this week, will create the largest hotel chain in the world with 1.1 million rooms, spread out over nearly 30 brands.

The road to closing this transaction, which Marriott and Starwood initially announced in November 2015, has taken numerous twists and turns, including an unexpected bidding war with China’s Anbang Insurance Group and its consortium in March 2016. Anbang eventually dropped out.

The extended antitrust review by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China was the latest and last hurdle.

Regulators in dozens of other countries and jurisdictions around the world, including the U.S., the European Union, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, had previously decided not to stand in the way of the mega merger.