The Chinese-led consortium eager to gain control of Starwood Hotels & Resorts has raised the stakes in its battle with Marriott International with an improved offer of nearly $14b (£9.8b).
Starwood said the latest offer from Anbang Insurance Group, J.C. Flowers & Co and Primavera Capital is likely to be a "superior proposal" to the $13.6b (£9.5b) from Marriott that it agreed to seven days ago.
However, the Starwood board confirmed that it has not changed its recommendation in support of Starwood's merger with Marriott, which would create the world's largest hotel company with a total of 1.1 million rooms across more than 5,500 hotels. The merger of the two American hotel companies would combine the Marriott might of 4,400 properties with the 1,300-strong Starwood portfolio, involving an unprecedented 30 brands.
Marriott has reaffirmed its "commitment" to acquire Starwood, saying that the previously announced merger agreement is "the best course" for both companies.
"The combined company will offer stockholders significant equity upside and greater long-term value driven by a larger global footprint, wider choice of brands for consumers, substantial revenue synergies, and improved economics to owners and franchisees leading to accelerated global growth and continued strong returns," said Marriott in a statement. The company also confirmed that a special meeting of shareholders to vote on the deal will now be adjourned until 8 April.
Marriott's original bid for Starwood of $12.2b (£8b) looked set to be completed by the middle of 2016 until Anbang gate crashed the merger talks by offering $13b (£9.2b).
This resulted in Marriott's most recent offer of $13.6b (£9.5b).