Marriott, Starwood Clear Antitrust Reviews in US and Canada, So What's Next?
Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced Tuesday they have cleared key regulatory obstacles as it pertains to Marriott's impending acquisition of Starwood.
The waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 expired, the companies said, meaning they have cleared the premerger antitrust review in the U.S.
What's more, the companies can also move forward with the deal in Canada in wake of the Competition Bureau of Canada issuing a "no-action letter."
While both announcements signify green lights for the planned merger, which is expected to close in mid-2016, there are still regulatory hurdles to clear in other parts of the world, including the European Union.
Beyond those additional pending approvals, March 28 represents a key date in the merger process. That's when both Marriott and Starwood will hold special stockholder meetings to approve the combination transactions. The meetings will begin at 10 a.m. ET on March 28 and will take place in Bethesda, Maryland and Stamford, Connecticut, respectively.
In addition to those approvals, Marriott's acquisition of Starwood is subject to the closure of the latter's deal with the Interval Leisure Group. In October 2015, Starwood agreed to sell its vacation ownership business, Vistana Signature Experiences, in a deal valued at $1.5 billion.
That deal is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of 2016.
Although there are still a handful of obstacles to clear, there haven't been any major hiccups to this point and, barring an unexpected setback, the two companies appear poised to finalize the merger and form the world's largest hotel company this upcoming summer.
If and when the transaction is completed, the focus is likely to shift to the company's plans for Starwood's loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has said the company will combine the best features of both Marriott Rewards and SPG. But for now, it's uncertain what that will look like.
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