Chinese antitrust regulator extends review of Marriott-Starwood $13.6 bn merger

The Chinese antitrust regulator has extended its review of the Marriott International - Starwood Hotels & Resorts merger by up to 60 days, although the planned $13.6-billion merger does not create any anti-competitive issues in the country.

China's ministry of commerce (MOFCOM) review is the only remaining approval for the deal, after the transaction has already been cleared by regulators in more than 40 countries, including the US, the European Union and Canada, and also approved by shareholders of both companies.

Both Marriott and Starwood said in a statement that, ''at the request of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), they have agreed to extend the time period for MOFCOM to complete its review of the Marriott-Starwood merger transaction. This additional review period, known as phase three, could last up to 60 days.''

''Marriott and Starwood continue to believe that their planned merger transaction poses no anti-competitive issues in China. Approval by China's Ministry of Commerce is the only remaining merger clearance required before the transaction may close.''

''The companies have received unconditional premerger clearances from regulatory authorities representing over 40 countries worldwide, including the United States, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey,'' the statement added.

In March, Marriott clinched the deal to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts for $13.6 billion beating a competitive bid from China's Anbang Insurance Group-led consortium. (See: Marriott hikes bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts to $13.6-bn revised)

The Anbang consortium backed away from the deal since the transaction could have invited scrutiny from the US Committee on Foreign Investment, an interagency panel that reviews deals that could harm national security.

The Marriott-Starwood deal would create the world's largest hotel chain with more than 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million rooms.

The combined brands would include Marriott International, Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Sheraton, Ritz Carlton, the Autograph Collection, Westin, Le Meridien, St. Regis, and Aloft.

Starwood has more than 1,200 properties in around 100 countries with brands that include The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, Aloft, and Element luxury hotels and resorts.

With annual revenues of more than $14 billion, Maryland-based Marriott has more than 4,400 properties in 87 countries and territories.

The company operates and franchises hotels under 19 brands, including: The Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari, EDITION, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and others.