A fight for control of the Starwood hotel chain is under way following a $14 billion buyout offer Monday from a consortium led by China's Anbang Insurance Group.
Anbang, which remains largely unknown to most Americans, has quickly positioned itself to become a major player in the U.S. hotel industry.
It made a splash in the fall of 2014 when it bought New York's Waldorf Astoria for almost $2 billion. It cut a $6.5 billion deal for Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. just days ago.
Now it is going toe-to-toe with U.S. hotel giant Marriott International Inc., which said late last year that it would buy Starwood, the owner of Sheraton and St. Regis hotels, in a deal worth $12.2 billion.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. said Monday that it still favors the Marriott deal, but that it's looking at the latest bid.
The offer from the Chinese group includes $76 per Starwood share and Interval Leisure Group stock currently valued at about $5.50 per Starwood share. Starwood said that there are still "a number of matters" that need to be worked out in the group's proposal.
Marriott said Monday that it stands behind its offer. Shareholders of Marriott and Starwood are expected to vote on that deal on March 28. If Starwood ends its agreement with Marriott or changes or withdraws its recommendation for shareholders to vote in favor of the Marriott transaction, Starwood would have to pay a $400 million termination fee.
Starwood, based in Stamford, Connecticut, has almost 1,300 properties in about 100 countries. Its shares jumped more than 7 percent in Monday before the opening bell.