In 1893 William Waldorf Astor built the Waldorf hotel in New York, naming it after himself. His cousin – John Jacob Astor IV – built a hotel next door and called it the Astoria. According to the biographer Jeremy Lewis the cousins “detested each other, but agreed for once to collaborate”. They connected their buildings and renamed the premises as the Waldorf-Astoria. In 2014 the historic hotel got a new owner when Chinese insurer Anbang bought it for almost $2 billion. And this week Anbang’s push into high-end hotels got a further boost with the $6.5 billion purchase of Strategic Hotels and Resorts from PE firm Blackstone. The hotel chain owns 16 luxury properties in the US, including the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego and New York’s JW Marriott Essex House.
In an audacious follow-up just two days later, Anbang also announced an all-cash $13 billion offer for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, outbidding Marriott, which had made a cash and stock offer in November. The latest bid – Starwood owns the Sheraton, St Regis and W hotel chains – follows other Anbang real estate purchases in Canada and South Korea, and looks unlikely to be its final overseas buy (for more on Anbang’s history, see WiC226).
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