Call it the $4.64 question. That's how much more per share China's Anbang Insurance has offered to entice Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide away from a deal with Marriott International. The new $14 billion bid is about 6 percent sweeter, but also comes with uncertainties. Heavy interest from rival hoteliers means Starwood can afford the risk and accept.
The owner of the Westin and W chains finds itself the object of desire for two very different suitors. One is Marriott, a blue-chip competitor that can extract cost savings from a merger. Starwood stockholders would share in the upside, owning about a third of the combined company after receiving Marriott stock, alongside $21 a share in cash, in last week's agreed transaction worth $78.11 a share in midday trading on Monday.