Friday, 31 July 2015

Hotel Buzz - part 5

So, the venerable Financial Times has gone big this morning on its Starwood/InterContinental Hotels merger tale, running it as the main story in its Company & Markets section. The story is carefully written, implying talks were held, it's early days and something may or may not happen etc. However, the fact that the Pink 'Un has given it some welly this morning implies FT hacks have properly stood this one up.

Meanwhile, the rest of this morning's newspaper business sections have chosen to ignore the tale after IHG put a denial statement, saying it isn't in talks with Starwood about a combination (although I still don't quite understand why the London-listed company hasn't disseminated the statement via the UK RNS).

Now, regular readers of Betaville will know that I have been trying to stack up this Starwood/IHG tale for quite sometime but kept on running into a brick wall. I have two theories about what is going on here, which I will air on Betaville for the benefit of those market watchers that like to pick over every single little detail.

The first theory is that basically the FT is spot on and that IHG's denial statement is actually a non-denial, denial i.e. IHG was in talks but after FT ran the story big yesterday on its website called off the talks, allowing the hotel company to legitimately deny it is "in" talks.

The second theory is that IHG has been tapping up City banks, including Bank of America Merill Lynch and JP Morgan, for some fresh bonds/ debt financing without giving a specific reason. Given IHG has just sold a hotel in Hong Kong hotel for almost $1 billion and Starwood is up for sale, it wouldn't take a banker with too much of an overactive imagination to come up with the idea that perhaps IHG is trying to buy/merge with Starwood.

Who knows - I certainly don't...


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