InterContinental Hotels Group Plc jumped in London trading after the Financial Times reported the company has had early-stage merger talks with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

InterContinental, Europe’s second-largest publicly traded hotel operator, gained as much 5.5 percent and was up 3.1 percent at 2,705 pence at 3 p.m. London time. Starwood was little changed at $82.87 in New York trading.

The talks are tentative and Starwood may chose another partner or follow another strategy, the FT reported, citing two people familiar with the discussions.

“Starwood doesn’t comment on market rumors or speculation,” said Carrie Bloom, a spokeswoman for the company. Zoe Bird, a spokeswoman for InterContinental, declined to comment.

In April, Starwood said it was exploring strategic and financial alternatives to increase shareholder value, fueling speculation it may bid for InterContinental.

Starwood, which owns the Sheraton and W brands, has been moving to cut real estate holdings to focus on property management and franchising. It’s slimmed down after several disposals, including its Sheraton on the Park in Sydney sale to China’s Sunshine Insurance Group in November.

–With assistance from Chloe Johnson in New York.


This article was written by Michael Shanahan from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: IHG's mid-market Holiday Inn brand isn't sexy like Starwood, but it's globally pervasive. VisMedia / Holiday Inn