Starwood enters a period of uncertainty as the braintrust tries to figure out a way for the chain to get its mojo back. Is Starwood too big to merge with another global chain? We'll see.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which saw the surprise departure of its CEO in February, hired a banker to “explore a full range of strategic and financial alternatives to increase shareholder value,” the company announced.
“No option is off the table, and we will take the time we need to thoroughly evaluate our opportunities and achieve the best result for our shareholders, business partners, and associates,” said board chairman Bruce W. Duncan.
Starwood stated it hired Lazard to guide the hotel chain through the process, which will consider the gamut of options, presumably from mergers and acquisitions to buyouts and other financial maneuvers.
Activist investors have been pushing Starwood for a merger or buyout and there has been criticism that Starwood was remiss for not going out and acquiring economy hotel brands.
Starwood announced the launch of its second collection of independent hotel brands, Tribute Portfolio, two weeks ago.
Then-CEO Frits van Paasschen stunned observers with a surprise resignation — or push — in February, reportedly amidst wrangling with the board and criticism that the chain failed to increase the number of franchise or managed hotels in its portfolio in 2014. Adam Aron is the interim CEO and a search is under way for a CEO without an interim tag.
The announcement about the board’s consideration of strategic and financial alternatives comes as Starwood today reported first quarter of 2015 results, which exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. Net income fell 27.7 percent to $99 million on $1.4 billion in revenue, a 2.9 percent drop.
Starwood stated it is in the early stages of conducting its strategic and financial review and can’t predict when it will be completed or the outcome.
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Photo credit: Will the W and other Starwood brands find a new corporate home? Everything is on the table amidst a Starwood strategic review. Pictured is Starwood Hotels' W Hollywood hotel logo in Los Angeles. Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press