BT Alex. Brown Inc. and Bear, Stearns & Co. have given Starwood Lodging Trust "highly confident" letters pledging their support in financing the hotel company's $13.3 billion acquisition of ITT Corp.
On Monday, Starwood and ITT announced a merger agreement for cash, stock, and assumed debt totaling about $13.3 billion.
Hilton Hotels Corp., whose $11.5 billion hostile bid for ITT is still on the table, said Tuesday that it would not raise its offer to counter Starwood's. The Hilton bid is expected to play out in a proxy fight next month.
BT Alex. Brown and Bear Stearns are advising Starwood on the acquisition, while Goldman Sachs & Co. and Lazard Freres are advising ITT.
A spokesman for Starwood said the letters it received from BT Alex. Brown and Bear Stearns demonstrate they are "confident in providing adequate funding to finance the transaction." Additional details on bank financing were not available.
Last month BT Alex. Brown led a $1.2 billion refinancing for Starwood that retired $650 million in debt, added operating capital, and funded the $470 million acquisition of 15 hotels from Flatley/Tara Hotels.
Lehman Brothers Inc., BankBoston Corp., and Bank of Montreal Corp. co- arranged the three-year, $1.2 billion loan package.
Starwood has been on an acquisition streak this year, already spending over $1.1 billion in 38 hotel acquisitions, according to Alan Schneid, its controller.
The purchase of ITT, which controls six hotel brands including Sheraton, Westin, and Caesars, and the pending $1.57 billion acquisition of Westin Hotels and Resorts would make Starwood the world's largest hotel company, with 650 hotels in 70 countries and a market capitalization of $20 billion.
Because last month's $1.2 billion loan was not to be used to fund the Westin acquisition, another refinancing or securities issue was already expected, said Starwood's Mr. Schneid.
Under the terms of transaction, shares of tax-exempt Starwood Lodging Trust, the nation's largest hotel real estate investment trust, would be paired with Starwood Lodging Corp., which leases and operates most of the Trust's hotels.
The taxable transaction, which requires shareholder, antitrust, and gaming approvals, is expected to close in the first quarter.
"This transaction gives the combined companies a sound balance sheet, which will enable us to continue to be a growth company and to take advantage of our current acquisition pipeline and a rapidly consolidating industry," said Barry S. Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer of Starwood. He would head the combined companies.