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by Michael J. Shapiro | September 20, 2016
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has granted antitrust approval to Marriott International's acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, clearing the way for the merger to close. Marriott and Starwood expect the transaction to be complete before the market opens this coming Friday, Sept. 23.

Chinese approval was the only regulatory hurdle the companies had still faced. Early last month, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce requested an extension to its phase 2 investigation, a process that could have lasted up to 60 days. The prolonged review process extended Marriott's merger timeline; the companies previously expected to close by early July.

Pending customary closing requirements, Marriott will become the world's largest hotel company this week. Starwood expects its shares will stop trading on the New York Stock Exchange before the markets open on Friday. Starwood shareholders will receive $21 in cash and 0.8 shares of Marriott International common stock for each share of Starwood common stock they own. If the timing goes as expected, Starwood shareholders will be entitled to receive Marriott's quarterly cash dividend of 30 cents per share of Marriott common stock. In that case, Starwood shareholders would not receive the Starwood dividend declared on Sept. 13.