After an exciting bidding war, Marriott’s takeover of Starwood was made official in April, though we’ve been waiting on the deal to close.
For weeks now, the holdup has been that the Chinese Ministry of Commerce hadn’t approved the transaction. On top of that, there have been rumors that both Marriott and Starwood were regretting the deal, so there was a very small glimmer of hope that the takeover might be called off. Admittedly that was wishful thinking, but…
The delay by the Chinese regulators came as a bit of a surprise, as they seemed to be sitting on the deal for weeks. In theory the merger as such could continue without China’s approval, though it would have implications for their hotels in China.
Well, unfortunately any hope of the merger between Marriott and Starwood being called off has now been crushed. Chinese regulators have approved the deal, and the transaction is expected to close before the market opens on September 23. Per a press release from Marriott:
Marriott International, Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. today announced their merger transaction has received approval from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). As this was the last regulatory approval required to complete the merger, Marriott and Starwood are now able to proceed with closing the transaction and expect the transaction to be completed before the market opens on September 23, pending satisfaction of customary closing requirements. Upon closing, Marriott will solidify its status as the world’s largest hotel company.
Oh well, it looks like this is really finally happening. While the business side of the deal will close later this week, as customers we still have no clue what the combined loyalty program will look like. Marriott has made some minor program changes that represent a move in the right direction, but that’s it.
There’s still quite a gap between what Starwood Preferred Guest members expect and what Marriott Rewards offers. Perhaps that’s just the reality of what this deal will look like, though there are a lot of unknowns.
What happens to Starwood lifetime elite status? When will points be combined, and at what ratio? What will combined elite benefits look like? Will there even be a single loyalty program, given that Ritz-Carlton is part of Marriott, but runs a parallel loyalty program?
Now that the deal is expected to close, hopefully we’ll soon get answers to some of the above.