by Michael J. Shapiro | October 01, 2016
(Pictured) W Punta de Mita, now part of Marriott's global portfolio
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When the Chinese Ministry of Commerce finally granted antitrust approval to Marriott International's acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in mid-September, the way was cleared for the merger of the two hotel giants to close. The transaction was completed before the market opened on Friday, Sept. 23.

Chinese approval had been the only regulatory hurdle standing in the way of closing. In August, 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.

Now that the deal is done, "you'll see an acceleration in the growth of the combined footprint of the company," said Marriott executive vice president and global chief development officer Tony Capuano. "I think you'll also see us lengthen our lead as the biggest operator of big-box group hotels across North America and across the world."

Capuano also noted the great variety of lifestyle hotels that Marriott now can offer incentive groups. "It wasn't that long ago that Renaissance was reasonably the only lifestyle brand in our portfolio," he said. "We've now got as complete and vertical a stack of lifestyle brands as anyone in the industry."