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Marriott takes over Starwood to create world’s largest hotel chain
  • AP
  • NOVEMBER 17, 2015 6:59AM

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Now part of the Marriott empire: Starwood’s The Westin in Sydney. Source: Supplied






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[b]Hotel behemoth Marriott International is becoming even larger, taking over rival chain Starwood in a $US12.2 billion deal that will catapult it to become the world’s largest hotelier by a wide margin.[/b]
The stock-and-cash deal, if completed, will add 50 per cent more rooms to Marriott’s portfolio and give it more unique, design-focused hotels that appeal to younger travellers.
The acquisition is likely to start another round of hotel mergers.
“This causes everybody in the business to look around and say: we don’t want to be the smallest,” said Bjorn Hanson, a professor at the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.
The latest deal would leave Marriott with 5,500 properties and more than 1.1 million rooms around the world, uniting Starwood’s brands, which include Sheraton, Westin, W and St. Regis, with Marriott’s two dozen brands including Marriott’s Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton and Fairfield Inn.
The transaction is expected to close in the middle of 2016.
The next-largest hotel company is Hilton Worldwide with 4,500 properties and about 735,000 rooms.
“To be successful in today’s marketplace, a wide distribution of brands and hotels across price points is critical,” Starwood CEO Adam Aron said on a call with Wall Street analysts. “It appeals to travellers wherever they may go, leverages marketing and technology spend(ing) and strengthens frequent traveller loyalty. Today, size matters.”
Marriott and Starwood — like other hotel chains — own very few individual hotels. Instead they manage or franchise their brands to hundreds of individual owners, often real estate development companies. Those individual hotel owners are responsible for setting nightly room rates. It isn’t uncommon for a developer to own a Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Sheraton in the same city.
The merger will give Marriott 30 brands and more leverage with corporate travel departments who often look for one giant chain to house all of their employees. Frequent business travellers will also be closely watching the deal. Starwood has a beloved frequent guest program with partnerships with American Express, Delta Air Lines and Uber. Marriott has a much larger program with partnerships with Chase and United Airlines.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said he was attracted to Starwood, in part, because of its loyalty program. He said the members skew a little younger than Marriott’s and the program is “very valued by elite travellers.”
“We will take the best of both programs and make sure the bests are preserved,” he said on the analyst call. The details will be worked out in the coming months.
Back in April, Starwood announced its board was exploring strategic options for the hotel company. The Stamford, Connecticut, company has struggled to grow as fast as its rivals, particularly in “limited service hotels,” smaller properties which don’t have restaurants or banquet halls. They are often located on the side of the highway, near airports or in suburban office parks.
There was speculation in the markets about a potential deal with Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group and more recently Hyatt Hotels Corp. But in the end, it was Marriott who prevailed.
Starwood’s strong international presence will aid Marriott. In the past few years, Starwood has made a strong push to grow in China, India, the United Arab Emirates as well as more-established European destinations. Marriott, in turn, has a well-established network of hotels including deep coverage of small towns and cities with its Fairfield Inn, Courtyard and Residence Inn brands.
The deal comes at a time of record hotel occupancy and rates.
During the first nine months of this year, guests filled 67.3 per cent of the available rooms in the US, according to research firm STR. That’s the highest level since STR started collecting data in 1987. Guests paid an average of $US120.35 a night so far this year. The prior record, adjusted for inflation, was $US119.70 in 2008.
Marriott, based in Bethesda, Maryland, has been aggressively growing. In April, it acquired Canadian chain Delta Hotels and Resorts, helping it become the largest hotel company in Canada.
The boards of both companies approved the acquisition unanimously, which now must be approved by investors in both hotel chains.
Marriott’s Sorenson will be president and CEO of the combined company and the headquarters will be in Bethesda. Marriott’s board of directors following the closing will increase from 11 to 14 members, with the expected addition of three members Starwood’s board.
Marriott said it expects to deliver at least $US200 million in annual savings in the second full year after closing.
Last month, Starwood announced the sale of its timeshare unit to Interval Leisure Group, with its shareholders retaining a 55-per cent stake in the company. That deal is expected to close before the Marriott acquisition, with Starwood shareholders receiving additional compensation for their stake in the timeshare business.


Marriott International — Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
Brands: The Ritz-Carlton, BVlgari, EDITION, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club, Gaylord Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites, Protea Hotels, and Moxy Hotels, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element.
Properties: 5,397. Rooms; 1,068,990.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings
Brands: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio -A Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.
Properties: 4,322. Rooms: 715,062.

Intercontinental Hotels Group
Brands: InterContinental, HUALUXE, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites, EVEN, and Kimpton.
Properties: 4,864. Rooms: 701,522.

Wyndham Worldwide
Brands: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Ramada, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Wingate by Wyndham, Microtel Inns & Suites, Tryp by Wyndham, RCI, Landal GreenParks, Novasol, Hoseasons, cottages4you, James Villa Holidays, Wyndham Vacation Rentals, Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Shell Vacations Club, and WorldMark by Wyndham.
Properties: 7,848. Rooms: 684,470.

Choice Hotels International
Brands: Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria hotels & suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brands.
Properties: 6,379. Rooms: 505,278.

Accor SA (France)
Brands: Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, Adagio Access, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget, hotelF1, and Thalassa.
Properties: 3,711. Rooms: 495,766.

Hyatt Hotels
Brands: Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Ziva, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Residence Club, Hyatt Gold Passport, and Hyatt Resorts.
Properties: 587. Rooms: 155,265.
Airbnb has terrified the hotel industry so much, it just agreed to a $17.2b merger
DateNovember 17, 2015 - 10:48AM
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John McDuling
Associate Editor, Digital

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Airbnb expects to hit $US900 million in gross revenue this year, rising to $US10 billion by 2020 Photo: New York Times

The sharing economy is scaring the hotel industry. 
Two giant US-based hospitality companies with extensive operations in Australia are uniting to form the world's biggest hotel chain. And it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are doing so to combat the threat of Airbnb.
Marriott International announced overnight it is buying Starwood Hotels, owner of the Westin, Sheraton and W brands, for $US12.2 billion ($17.2 billion). 

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The hotel deal involves a number of Australian assets, including the Four Points by Sheraton Sydney at Darling Harbour. Photo: Supplied

The deal, if approved by regulators and stockholders, would create one hell of a monster in the hotel business, an entity with 1.1 million rooms in more than 5,500 hotels in over 100 countries. By way of comparison, accommodation marketplace Airbnb  has said it already has 1.5 million rooms and full house listings in more than 190 countries. 
Here's way to look at this deal: Starwood is being acquired at a price that works out to roughly half an Airbnb. The sharing economy startup was last valued at about $US25 billion in the private markets, according to a media report, which is incredible when you consider it was only founded in 2008 (and had trouble securing initial funding at the time).
That being said, startup valuations are notoriously opaque and often inflated by complicated structuring that limits the risks for venture capital fund backers. So the $US25 billion figure should be taken with caution. 

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The new hotel entity will group 1.1 million rooms in more than 5,500 hotels in over 100 countries Photo: Supplied

In any case, everything suggests Airbnb is growing like crazy. Documents reviewed by theWall Street Journal in June showed that while it's currently losing money, it expects to hit $US900 million in gross revenue this year, rising to $US10 billion by 2020, when it would have $US3 billion in operating earnings.
Like Uber, one of the few thing standing in the way of Airbnb's seemingly inexorable rise is more regulation. The service has previously been banned in cities like New York and has been investigated by regulators in New South Wales. 
Meanwhile, local representatives from the company (and Uber) are being hauled before a government enquiry into tax avoidance this week (even though it is not clear whether either is actually profitable here). But as Uber has shown, when a product is satisfying consumer demand it is very difficult to stop. 
Marriott's CEO acknowledged as much in arecent earnings call, noting that Airbnb is "here to stay". Hotel companies face major disadvantages in competing with an asset light company like Airbnb: they have to employ lots of staff and own or lease extensive properties and provide many services. rather than just run and app and process payments.
The idea that hotel chains should merge and scale up to ward off the Airbnb threat is hardly new. Now it's already happening.