Hotel Mergers Heating Up as Anbang Reportedly Considers Buying IHG

Significant airline mergers in the U.S. are probably over for quite some time after Alaska Airlines completes its acquisition of Virgin America. That’s because after Delta-Northwest, United-Continental, and American-US Airways (which followed America West-US Airways) there’s been so much consolidation already that most of the median to larger-sized players have either done their deals or been taken off the map.

Virgin America

All except American – US Airways were done in tough economic times, and even American – US Airways was done while American Airlines was still in bankruptcy. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice initially opposed that merger, and is likely to oppose deals larger than Alaska-Virgin America. One imagines that a Clinton DOJ would take a similar approach (a Republican victory in November is both statistically less likely and harder to forecast behaviorally).

Hotel mergers may still just be getting started. IHG bought Kimpton in a deal that was announced less than 2 years ago. Fairmont went to Accor last December. Starwood went to Marriott after Chinese insurer Anbang dropped out of the bidding.

Starwood’s W Doha hotel

But the appetite for hotel mergers is hardly satisfied.

  • Hyatt looked at both Kimpton and Starwood, and was reportedly close to a deal for Starwood. Hyatt’s unique ownership structure (with the Pritzker family owning shares with greater voting rights), though something they were willing to revisit, was reportedly a barrier in the Starwood deal.

  • IHG was reportedly in the market for Fairmont and was also rumored as a merger partner with Starwood.

  • Wyndham was rumored as a merger partner for Starwood. It would have married Wyndham’s focus on lower-tier properties with Starwood’s luxury focus. So many Starwood employees had gone over to Wyndham as well that the latter gained the nickname ‘Wynwood’.

  • Hilton has said they aren’t interested in deals, at the same time they’ve been speculated as a deal partner

And Anbang crashed onto the scene with billions of cash to play with and a willingness to spend on hotel assets.

Now Anbang is rumored to be considering a bid for IHG hotels for just over $9 billion, a little more than a 10% premium over Friday’s close.

Intercontinental Boston

Anbang denies the report. At this stage it’s tough to know whether their denial simply means they haven’t made an offer, which no one has suggested, or whether it’s a leak intended to entice other bidders like Wyndham to act quickly.

Regardless, it appears that hotel consolidation may continue.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. i think they’re denying it, in an effort to discourage other suitors coming out of the woodwork, that may put competitive pressure on their offer.

    either that, or IHG just want Wyndham back at the table.

  2. Anbang is planning to close the Waldorf Astoria NYC for about 3 years in order to turn roughly 75% of the rooms into condos.

  3. I still think that Starwood plus Wyndham (with the lowest 10% of horrible Sheratons and Travelodges culled) would have been killer.

  4. I’ve said this before – this is 100% an attempt by Anbang to diversify away from RMB and into dollar-denominated assets to protect against a currency devaluation. Look for other Chinese firms to make acquisitions and investments and other smaller chains to get swallowed up

  5. If Anbang buys IHG it’s an acquisition, not a merger. I wonder, though, if the new Waldorf Astoria would become part of IHG.

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