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Marriott Wins Bidding War, Will Merge with Starwood

In the weeks-long bidding war for Starwood, Anbang’s latest offer was demonstrably superior to Marriott’s, at least in the short term. And it appeared that Marriott was standing pat, hoping that Starwood shareholders would buy the argument that a Marriott-Starwood tie-up could deliver better returns over the long term.

As things stood, there was a better-than-even chance that Anbang would be Starwood’s new owner after a shareholder vote on April 8.

But then, this afternoon, Anbang issued the following statement:

We were attracted to the opportunity presented by Starwood because of its high-quality, leading global hotel brands, which met many of our acquisition criteria, including the ability to generate consistent, long-term returns over time. However, due to various market considerations, the Consortium has determined not to proceed further. We thank the Starwood Board, management team and its advisors for their efforts and support throughout this process.

So, barring a last-minute bid from a new entrant, it appears that Starwood will go to Marriott, creating, as the deal’s proponents touted, the world’s largest hotel company.

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The scale of the combined companies may indeed create economies of scale and marketing synergies, leading to improved returns for stockholders. Wall Street was skeptical, however: In after-hours trading, Starwood’s share price was down 4.35 percent and Marriott’s was down 5.72 percent.

Whether a larger Marriott will be a better-for-customers Marriott is an even less certain proposition.

Reader Reality Check

Will combining Marriott and Starwood be better for either company’s customers?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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