Starwood’s Secret Suitor: Why Anbang Backed Down

Anbang Insurance Group offered Starwood Hotels a deal worth $14 billion — then mysteriously bowed out.

When Marriott International first emerged as the top suitor for Starwood Hotels & Resorts last year, the seller wondered if a contender might emerge — perhaps Hyatt Hotels Corp., an early favorite among those following the industry.

What Starwood didn’t expect was an eventual cash offer from Anbang International Group, a Chinese firm with a curious approach, fuzzy financing, and an even fuzzier vision  — but who seemed nonetheless determined to win at any price, even pledging to finance the deal regardless of potential Chinese regulation.

Led by chairman Wu Xiohui, an ardent admirer of the St. Regis (he often requested meetings at the St. Regis New York, shown above, according to The Wall Street Journal), Anbang made a record offer valued at $14 billion before abruptly retreating last week.

Anbang’s secretive and often spontaneous approach at times forced top Starwood executives to change holiday vacation plans, according to an in-depth story by The Wall Street Journal, and the group went silent for two days before ultimately announcing the withdrawal of their offer. Anbang sited only ‘various marketing considerations’ for the decision.  

Read the full WSJ article here.


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