Chinese Insurer Chases Strategic, Starwood

Angbang Insurance Group challenges Marriott's offer for Starwood Hotels and reportedly buys Strategic Hotels from new owner Blackstone.

By Paul Rosta

The Chinese insurance company that bought Manhattan’s famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel is now looking to make a far bigger splash in the U.S. hospitality market with a pair of blockbuster deals.

The Hotel del Coronado, a San Diego landmark that Angbang would acquire as part of its reported $6.5 billion deal for Strategic Hotels & Resorts.
The Hotel del Coronado, a San Diego landmark that Angbang would acquire as part of its reported $6.5 billion deal for Strategic Hotels & Resorts.

According to multiple reports, Angbang Insurance Group Co. has struck a $6.5 billion deal to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. from Blackstone Group, only a few months after Blackstone closed on the acquisition of the hospitality chain. Neither Blackstone nor Angbang have yet commented on the rumored deal, which was reported by Bloomberg, CNBC and other sources.

If a sale does emerge, it would represent a $450 million premium to the $6 billion price Blackstone paid for Strategic Hotels, which also included $3.9 billion worth of debt. That transaction, which closed last December, gave Blackstone ownership of 17 trophy hospitality properties, ranging from Marriott Essex House in Midtown Manhattan to San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado.

Strategic’s portfolio of resorts and urban properties also includes Four Seasons, Fairmont and Intercontinental flags in Washington, D.C., Austin, Texas, Chicago, San Francisco, Southern California and Jackson Hole, Wyo. According to some reports, Blackstone initially intended to sell at least some of the properties individually, as it did after buying Equity Office a decade ago, until Angbang made an offer on the entire portfolio.

Angbang is simultaneously inserting itself into another hospitality megadeal, Marriott’s proposed takeover of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. Starwood disclosed on Monday morning that it had received a non-binding proposal on March 10 from an unidentified group. Starwood’s statement did not name the buyer, but Marriott later identified the leader of the consortium as Angbang. The offer competes with Marriott’s $12.2 billion agreement last November to buy Starwood and its portfolio of nearly 1,300 properties in 100-plus countries.

Although the Angbang-led group’s offer of $76 per share sweetens the deal considerably compared to Marriott’s price of $72 per share, it remains to be seen whether the Chinese investors will outduel Marriott . In its statement, Starwood emphasized that its board’s recommendation to accept Marriott’s offer is unchanged by the consortium’s proposal. “The Consortium has not completed diligence and there are a number of matters to be resolved in the Consortium’s proposal.” Starwood stated that Marriott had granted a waiver to allow talks with the consortium through Thursday, March 17.