Exclusive: EU set to clear unconditionally Marriott, Starwood deal - source
By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. hotel chain Marriott International (MAR.O: Quote) is on track to win unconditional EU antitrust approval for its cash and share purchase of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc HOT.N, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The deal, currently worth $12.5 billion, will put Marriott's brands including the Ritz-Carlton and Starwood's Sheraton and Westin chains together to create the world's largest hotel company and is one of many in the sector this year.
Consolidation has picked up pace amid rising competition from new rivals such as Airbnb and online travel sites such as booking.com and Tripadvisor (TRIP.O: Quote). The merged company will have more than 5,500 hotels with 1.1 million rooms worldwide.
The European Commission has not called for a "state of play" meeting, the person said.
The EU competition enforcer only sets up such meetings when it has concerns a deal may hurt competition, giving parties an opportunity to offer concessions during a preliminary review or face a full-scale investigation.
Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso declined to comment. The watchdog is scheduled to decide on the deal by June 27. U.S. and Canadian regulators have already given the green light.
Marriott declined to comment. Starwood did not immediately reply to an email.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis and Philip Blenkinsop)
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