Shareholders approve Marriott, Starwood deal
NEW YORK • Marriott International's US$12.4 billion (S$16.7 billion) acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts was approved by shareholders of both companies, cementing a deal to create the world's largest hotel operator following a tumultuous bidding war.
Holders of more than 97 per cent of Marriott shares voting at a company meeting, representing more than 79 per cent of outstanding shares, were in favour of the deal, as were more than 95 per cent of Starwood shareholders representing more than 63 per cent of outstanding shares, the companies said in a joint statement on Friday.
Marriott offered 0.8 shares and US$21 in cash for each Starwood share, a deal valued at US$73.42 a share based on Thursday's closing price.
Top Anglican archbishop is son of Churchill aide
LONDON • Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has confirmed that he is the illegitimate son of a private secretary to Mr Winston Churchill, after a newspaper reported the discovery.
Archbishop Welby, the most senior figure in the Anglican Communion consisting of some 85 million Christians globally, said the news, reported in yesterday's edition of the Daily Telegraph, had come as a "complete surprise".
"In the last month, I have discovered that my biological father is not Gavin Welby but, in fact, the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne," Archbishop Welby said in a statement issued through the Church of England.
But he insisted he was not disturbed by the news.
Retired priest released by Abu Sayyaf
ZAMBOANGA (Philippines) • A retired Italian priest held hostage for six months by Islamic militants left a Philippines hospital yesterday a day after his release looking frail, though officials said he was in good health.
A thin Rolando Del Torchio waved to journalists as he walked to a waiting ambulance, after spending the night in a military hospital in the southern port of Zamboanga.
The Italian was held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group after armed men snatched the then 56-year-old at gunpoint at his pizza restaurant in the southern city of Dipolog in October last year.
Myanmar drops charges against 199 activists
YANGON • The Myanmar authorities have dropped charges against 199 political activists since Ms Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to fight for their freedom, a senior police officer said yesterday.
The cases were dismissed on Friday, he said, following Ms Suu Kyi's announcement the day before that she was working with her new civilian-led administration to secure the release of scores of political prisoners languishing in Myanmar's jails.
"Police have dropped 199 cases against political activists around the country as of yesterday," the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The issue has personal resonance for Ms Suu Kyi and many in her fledgling government, which is stacked with former activists once jailed under junta rule for their pro-democracy campaigns.