Chinese antitrust regulators finally approve Marriott-Starwood merger

Chinese antitrust regulators yesterday finally approved the merger of Marriott International Inc with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

The approval from China's ministry of commerce (Mofcom) cleared the last hurdle for the combined company to become the world's largest hotel chain.

The mega deal had already been approved by regulators from more than 40 countries including the US, the European Union, Canada, Chile, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey, and also approved by shareholders of both companies.

Mofcom had in August extended its review of the merger by up to 60 days, although the planned $13.6-billion merger did not create any anti-competitive issues in the country.

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 will create the world's largest hotel chain with an enterprise value of $36 billion, have more than 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million rooms.

The combined brands 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.