Paul­son takes 7pc Starwood stake to be­come top share­holder

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

WASHINGTON: John Paul­son's hedge funds last quar­ter ac­quired a 7 per­cent stake in Starwood Ho­tels & Re­sorts World­wide Inc., be­com­ing the big­gest share­holder in the com­pany as it ex­plores strate­gic al­ter­na­tives. Paul­son & Co., the New York-based money-man­age­ment firm run by the bil­lion­aire, held about 12 mil­lion Starwood shares as of June 30, val­ued at $973 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a Form 13F filed with the U.S. Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion. Paul­son didn't re­port hold­ing any Starwood shares in the prior quar­ter.

Paul­son is known for tak­ing stakes in com­pa­nies that are likely to be in­volved in takeovers. Starwood, the Stam­ford, Con­necti­cut-based owner of brands in­clud­ing the W, Sher­a­ton and St. Regis, an­nounced on April 29 that it had hired Lazard Ltd. to eval­u­ate op­tions, set­ting the stage for a po­ten­tial sale. "The kind of in­vestor that is mov­ing into these shares to­day is one who sees a long-term value in the com­pany and the pos­si­bil­ity of a near-term larger strate­gic move," said David Loeb, an an­a­lyst with Robert W. Baird & Co.

Paul­son's hold­ing made it the top Starwood share­holder as of June 30, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. Starwood shares gained 8.3 per­cent on the day it an­nounced the Lazard hir­ing, to $87.53. They have since re­treated, clos­ing Fri­day at $75.39. The com­pany, led by in­terim Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Adam Aron af­ter the res­ig­na­tion of long­time head Frits van Paass­chen in Fe­bru­ary, has been lag­ging be­hind com­peti­tors such as Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional Inc. and Hil­ton World­wide Hold­ings Inc. in ex­pand­ing the num­ber of ho­tels car­ry­ing its brands.

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