From The Business Journals

Hyatt Hotels is close to agreement on buying Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, a deal that CNBC reported could be announced within a week.

Chicago-based Hyatt (NYSE: H) would control the new, combined, company, the report said. Starwood (NYSE: HOT), which owns recognizable hotel brands such as Sheraton, Westin, and W Hotels, is based in Connecticut, and is estimated to have a market cap of about $13.64 billion. Hyatt’s market cap is about $7.4 billion.

Both companies’ shares were up in early trading, with Hyatt up more than 2 percent to $51.83 and Starwood up more than 7 percent to $80.08.

Hyatt’s move comes on the heels of news that several Chinese entities were considering bids for Starwood. That would make sense, since, as the Wall Street Journal explained, 53,000 of Starwood’s rooms are in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, out of 360,000 total rooms. Moreover, fewer than half of Starwood’s total rooms are in the U.S., the WSJ added.

That report speculated that an even bigger company, such as Marriott (NASDAQ: MAR), might be the most logical buyer since the new combined company could claim to be the first million-room hotel owner, with unprecedented ability to provide wide-reaching rewards programs and other economies of scale.

According to Hyatt’s last earnings report, for the second quarter(PDF), it had 160,205 rooms in its network, as of June 30.

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