After a holdup in the long-drawn Marriott International, Inc. acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc, Marriott today announced that they are expecting to be fully merged by September 23, 2016.
Since mid 2015, there had been chatter about a Starwood buyout from one of its competitors, though InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt Hotels Corporation had initially been rumored to be courting the hotel chain. However, in November 2015, Marriott announced a $12.2 billion bid for Starwood.
Sounds simple enough, though what followed was some high-tension drama (okay not really) when Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group threw their hat in the game and a bidding war ensued. Anbang finally withdrew their bid in April 2016, and Marriott and Starwood shareholders both voted in favor of the merger shortly after.
As the two hotel groups began proceedings to finalize the merger, receiving approval from regulatory representatives in more than 40 countries, they hit bump in the road when the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, responsible for granting anti-trust clearance in China, blocked the transaction and requested an extended review period (much to the dismay of both Marriott and SPG shareholders – and possibly less so to die hard-SPG fans).
Today, Marriott announced that the last regulatory approval had finally been obtained, and expect the closing transactions to be completed before the market opens on September 23. Similarly, Starwood’s shares will cease trading on the same day.
So what does this mean for Starwood’s loyal members? Marriott Rewards members seemed to react favorably to the merge, but SPG fans had greeted the merger news with disdain.
Marriott has announced changes to their program to align more closely to that of SPG, but it’s definitely not at the same level. Other hotel chains (*ahem* Hyatt) have tried to win over SPG’s customer base by offering a status match for those looking to jump ship.
Currently, both the Starwood Preferred Guest and the Marriott Rewards programs have been running independently, though it is expected to seem some kind of merge between the two in the coming months – and it’ll be interesting to see which benefits get cut, and which stick around.