Last updated: 10:59 PM ET, Thu October 29 2015

Starwood Merger Talks Ramp Up

Hotel & Resort | Starwood Hotels and Resorts | Janeen Christoff | October 29, 2015

Starwood Merger Talks Ramp Up

PHOTO: St. Regis Princeville, Kauai. (Photo courtesy Starwood Hotels & Resorts)

The rumor mill has been churning with talk that Starwood Hotels & Resorts is nearing a deal to either sell the company or merge with another chain. And, according to the Associated Press (AP), the talk is legit.

"This has the company's highest attention," interim CEO Adam Aron told the AP. "Our clear goal is to optimize the value for our shareholders."

According to the AP, Aron has also met with investors about the proposal.

"Our progress is active and nearing conclusion," Aron told investors Wednesday afternoon. He wouldn't comment on any specific deal, but said, "I would be surprised if we don't have answers to these questions by the end of this calendar year."

The big question is whom the company is going to merge with. Several outlets are reporting that Hyatt Hotels is in negotiation with Starwood, but they are a smaller hotel chain, operating 160,205 hotel rooms at 618 hotels to Starwood’s more than 360,000 rooms at 1,271 properties across its many brands so it is unclear what a joint venture between these two companies would look like.

Many have suggested that a merger between Hyatt and Starwood would allow the two companies to better compete against mega hotel brands Marriott and Hilton, but it is not a done deal yet. According to the Wall Street Journal, three Chinese companies have also been reported to be in negotiation, including Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels.

No matter who is in negotiations with Starwood, the company’s stock has skyrocketed over the last couple of days – up more than 15 percent.

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