Starwood Hotels eager to resume asset-light strategy

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK The market for large-scale hotel transactions remains cool due to credit markets that remain tight, but a Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide executive believes the company will be able to resume its asset-light strategy relatively soon.

Starwood is in no rush to unload hotels, though, and Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu tells Reuters that the company’s main goal is to sell hotels at “good values on long-term basis.” Within a few years, Prabhu believes Starwood may be able to sell “a lot” of hotels, which would align with the company’s goal of shedding real estate assets.

Right now, “there is no opportunity for a large transaction,” Prabhu says. “We can sell a hotel here and there.” Starwood owns 62 hotels.

When the transactions market does return, Prabhu expects that the one-time trend of massively leveraged acquisitions will not come back with it. “The odds of anybody being able to do deals with high leverage are gone,” Prabhu says.