The $12.2b (£8b) deal by Marriott International to acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is on the verge of being blown out of the water as a result of an 11th-hour bid from a Chinese-led consortium of investors.
Starwood has informed Marriott that it intends to terminate the merger agreement, announced in November 2015, unless the two parties can agree on a revised deal which would be "superior" to an offer of $13b (£9.2b) made by a group of investors led by Anberg Insurance Group. The deal involves nearly 1,300 hotels across around 100 countries.
By now Marriott had hoped to be putting the finishing touches to its original bid, with a view to completion by the middle of this year. If it still goes ahead, the Marriott-Starwood merger would create the world's largest hotel company with a total 1.1 million rooms across more than 5,500 hotels.
Marriott has until 28 March to come forward with a revised offer. If Starwood terminates the Marriott merger agreement in order to accept the consortium proposal, Starwood must pay Marriott a termination fee of $400m in cash.
Marriott said it continued to believe that its acquisition of Starwood was the best course for both companies, but it was reviewing the Anbang consortium's proposal.