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Marriott-Starwood hotel deal is delayed by Chinese regulators

A Marriott hotel in Cranberry Township, Pa., in 2014.
A Marriott hotel in Cranberry Township, Pa., in 2014.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Marriott International Inc.'s proposed $13.6-billion purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has hit a snag: China.

The Bethesda, Md.-based hospitality giant said Monday that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce needs up to 60 additional days to review the company’s purchase of Starwood, a deal that would create the world’s largest hotel company.

A green light from Chinese regulators is the last remaining hurdle for Marriott, which has already received necessary approvals from regulators in 40 countries, including the United States and the European Union.

“Marriott and Starwood continue to believe that their planned merger transaction poses no anti-competitive issues in China,” Marriott said Monday.

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The hiccup comes after a heated bidding war between Marriott and a business group led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group, which offered $14 billion in cash for Starwood before pulling its bid in April.

Marriott executives had originally expected the Chinese government to complete its antitrust reviews by Aug. 9, according to a July 28 call with Wall Street analysts. The latest development pushes back the process by as much as two months.

“We’ve provided very, very significant amounts of information [to Chinese authorities] over the course for the last six or eight months,” Sorenson said in the call. “We remain optimistic that we will receive clearance from China and will complete the transaction in the coming weeks.”

Marriott has 99 hotels in China, with an additional 150 in the works. Starwood, based in Stamford, Conn., has 283 properties in China.

If the deal is approved, the combined hotelier would have 30 brands with 1.1 million rooms. It would bring together Marriott’s Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance Hotels brands with Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis.

Bhattarai writes for the Washington Post.

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