BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 23, 2016 (hospitalitybusinessnews.com) — Marriott International, Inc. has completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., creating the world’s largest and best hotel company. Marriott now offers the most comprehensive portfolio of brands including leading lifestyle brands, a significant global footprint, and leadership in the luxury and select-service tiers as well as the convention and resort segment. Beginning today, Marriott will match member status across Marriott Rewards – which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), enabling members to transfer points between the programs for travel and exclusive experiences when they link their accounts later today.
“Throughout our nearly 90-year history we have never stopped searching for innovative ways to serve our guests. With the addition of Starwood’s strong brands, great properties, and talented people, we have dramatically expanded our ability to provide the best experiences to our customers. We also welcome the tremendous responsibility as the world’s largest hotel company to be a good global steward, providing new opportunities for our associates and building the economic strength of the communities we call home,” said J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International.
“We believe that Marriott now has the world’s best portfolio of hotel brands, the most comprehensive global footprint, and the most extensive loyalty programs, providing an unparalleled guest experience. Combining Starwood’s brands with ours better enables Marriott to reach our goal of having the right brand in the right place to serve our loyal guests and welcome new ones,” said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International. “We can now provide a better range of choices for our guests, more opportunities for our associates, and greater financial benefits for our owners, franchisees, and shareholders.”
The new company will operate or franchise more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, representing 30 leading brands from the moderate-tier to luxury in over 110 countries. With the completion of this acquisition, Marriott’s distribution has more than doubled in Asia and the Middle East & Africa combined.
Best-in-Class Loyalty Programs
Marriott Rewards – which includes the Ritz-Carlton Rewards – and SPG are the most recognized and awarded loyalty programs in hospitality. Together, these programs will offer members more benefits when they link their accounts, as well as new destinations such as Aruba, Tuscany’sSerchio Valley and Kruger National Park in South Africa for SPG members and the Maldives, Bora Bora and Santorini, Greece for Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members.
“Marriott will draw upon the very best each program offers and we can’t wait to show the loyal members of these programs the power and benefits of Marriott and Starwood coming together,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Commercial Officer.
Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood enables the combined company to expand the scope of its distribution and portfolio while deploying its larger scale to realize cost efficiencies in its corporate and property operations. As previously stated, Marriott is confident the company can achieve $250 million in annual corporate cost synergies. Additional synergies at the property level should come in the form of leveraging scale in operations and sharing best practices. Combined sales expertise and improved account coverage are expected to provide both enhanced efficiencies and increased revenue opportunities for managed and franchised properties.
“These enhanced efficiencies and revenue opportunities should drive improved property-level profitability as well as greater owner and franchisee preference for the combined company’s brands, which will encourage new hotel development,” Sorenson said. “As new travel destinations emerge, Marriott can be counted on to be there.”
One-time transaction costs for the merger are expected to total approximately $140 million. Marriott intends to take the steps necessary to cause Starwood’s outstanding public debt to be pari passu with the outstanding public debt of Marriott International. Marriott remains committed to maintaining an investment grade credit rating and to continue managing the balance sheet prudently after the merger.
New Board Members and Shares Listing
Effective today, Marriott’s Board of Directors has increased from 11 to 14 members, with the addition of Bruce Duncan, Chairman, President and CEO of First Industrial Realty Trust, Inc., Eric Hippeau, Partner, Lerer Hippeau Ventures; and Aylwin Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Potbelly Corporation. Messrs. Hippeau and Lewis are also former Starwood board members.
Before market open today, Starwood’s shares will cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange. As previously announced, Starwood shareholders will receive $21.00 in cash and 0.80 shares of Marriott International, Inc. Class A common stock for each share of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. common stock.
Arne Sorenson remains President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, and Marriott’s headquarters continues to be located in Bethesda, Maryland.