Significant airline mergers in the U.S. are probably over for quite some time after Alaska Airlines completes its acquisition of Virgin America. That’s because after Delta-Northwest, United-Continental, and American-US Airways (which followed America West-US Airways) there’s been so much consolidation already that most of the median to larger-sized players have either done their deals or been taken off the map.
All except American – US Airways were done in tough economic times, and even American – US Airways was done while American Airlines was still in bankruptcy. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice initially opposed that merger, and is likely to oppose deals larger than Alaska-Virgin America. One imagines that a Clinton DOJ would take a similar approach (a Republican victory in November is both statistically less likely and harder to forecast behaviorally).
Hotel mergers may still just be getting started. IHG bought Kimpton in a deal that was announced less than 2 years ago. Fairmont went to Accor last December. Starwood went to Marriott after Chinese insurer Anbang dropped out of the bidding.
Starwood’s W Doha hotel
But the appetite for hotel mergers is hardly satisfied.
- Hyatt looked at both Kimpton and Starwood, and was reportedly close to a deal for Starwood. Hyatt’s unique ownership structure (with the Pritzker family owning shares with greater voting rights), though something they were willing to revisit, was reportedly a barrier in the Starwood deal.
- IHG was reportedly in the market for Fairmont and was also rumored as a merger partner with Starwood.
- Wyndham was rumored as a merger partner for Starwood. It would have married Wyndham’s focus on lower-tier properties with Starwood’s luxury focus. So many Starwood employees had gone over to Wyndham as well that the latter gained the nickname ‘Wynwood’.
- Hilton has said they aren’t interested in deals, at the same time they’ve been speculated as a deal partner
And Anbang crashed onto the scene with billions of cash to play with and a willingness to spend on hotel assets.
Now Anbang is rumored to be considering a bid for IHG hotels for just over $9 billion, a little more than a 10% premium over Friday’s close.
Anbang denies the report. At this stage it’s tough to know whether their denial simply means they haven’t made an offer, which no one has suggested, or whether it’s a leak intended to entice other bidders like Wyndham to act quickly.
Regardless, it appears that hotel consolidation may continue.