Chinese firms weigh Starwood Hotels bid, largest-ever Chinese takeover of US company

New York-listed Starwood Hotels launched the Royal Palm South Beach Miami in Florida on April 9, 2015. PHOTO: STARWOOD

NEW YORK (AFP) - A trio of Chinese companies are consulting the Chinese government on a possible bid for US hotel giant Starwood, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels, HNA Group and sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. have all expressed interest to the government in bidding for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources.

Starwood's properties include the Sheraton, Westin and W hotel chains. The company currently has some 1,270 properties in 100 countries.

The Chinese government is thought to prefer a single bidder to avoid inflating the price of Starwood, which would represent the largest-ever takeover of a US company by a Chinese entity.

Starwood's market valuation was about US$11.7 billion (S$16.33 billion) at the close of trade Monday.

Starwood in April announced it hired investment bank Lazard to consider strategic options to boost value.

"No option is off the table," the company said, a signal a sale was possible.

A purchase of Starwood by a Chinese company would underscore growing Chinese interest in leadership in global hospitality. The Chinese Anbang Insurance Group in 2014 bought the landmark Waldorf Astoria in New York from Hilton for US$1.95 billion.

Shares of Starwood jumped 9.4 per cent to $75.02 in afternoon trade.

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