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China's Anbang abandons $14b bid to buy Starwood

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-04-01 08:05

China's Anbang abandons $14b bid to buy Starwood

A logo sign outside of the headquarters of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc in Stamford, Connecticut, the US, November 20, 2015. [Photo/IC]

China's Anbang Insurance Group Co said on Thursday it has abandoned its $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, paving the way for Marriott International Inc to buy the Sheraton and Westin hotels operator.

"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," Anbang said in a statement.

"However, due to various market considerations, the consortium has determined not to proceed further," Anbang added, referring to the joint bid it had put together with private equity firms J.C. Flowers & Co and Primavera Capital Ltd.

Anbang did not offer Starwood a reason for not following through on its raised offer of March 26, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified disclosing confidential discussions.

Starwood said on Monday that Anbang had raised its offer to almost $14 billion. Anbang had been expected to firm up that non-binding offer, so that Starwood would formally declare it superior to Marriott's.

Anbang had already made a $13.2 billion binding and fully financed offer earlier this month, which Starwood accepted as superior. Had Marriott not counterbid on March 21, Starwood would have proceeded with the earlier Anbang offer.

Starwood also said in a statement on Thursday that Anbang had withdrawn its offer "as a result of market considerations," which it did not specify. Marriott declined to provide immediate comment.

Starwood's shares fell 4.4 percent to $79.80 in extended trading, while Marriott shares fell 4.9 percent to $67.68. This indicates that some Marriott shareholders are disappointed that the company is moving ahead with the deal at such a high price.

Anbang was established in 2004 as an automotive and property insurer by Chairman Wu Xiaohui, a native of China's entrepreneurial coastal city Wenzhou. The company has been leveraging its 1.65 trillion yuan ($253 billion) in assets to transform into a worldwide investor.

In October 2014, Anbang agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, a move Wu said brought the insurer "extra brand recognition" and business opportunities. Earlier this month, Anbang agreed to pay Blackstone Group LP ion for Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc, whose 16 luxury properties include the Four Seasons Washington D.C.

Last year, Anbang agreed to buy US insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life for $1.6 billion, and paid around $1 billion for South Korea's Tong Yang Life Insurance Co.

It has also bought control of Fidea, a Belgium-based insurer, and the Belgian banking operations of Dutch insurer Delta Lloyd NV.

At home, Anbang has a leading stake in China Minsheng Banking Corp Ltd , the country's biggest private lender, and is a significant shareholder in China Vanke Co , the largest residential property developer.

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