Update: Marriott has outbid Anbang for control of Starwood once again. Additionally Starwood has agreed to pay Marriott $468MM as a breakup fee if they accept a bid from another company in this ongoing bidding war.
Originally posted on 3/18:
In a fantastic development for mileage junkies, Starwood has reversed course and has agreed to be sold to China’s Anbang consortium.
Marriott runs a far less generous loyalty program than Starwood and while they have promised to elevate their combined program to Starwood’s standards, there’s obviously reason for concern.
The Starwood AMEX and Chase Marriott cards are both running unprecedented signup bonuses as they look to expand their book of business before the merger, when one of the cards would likely go away. Frankly I’m surprised that AMEX didn’t make their own play to buy out Starwood just to stop the bleeding after losing Costco and JetBlue last year.
Of course this is all a play to get Marriott to cough up more cash for SPG. I’m rooting that they’ll take the $400MM breakup fee payment and walk away, though that’s probably unlikely at this point in the bidding war.