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Report: Anbang backs out of Starwood Hotels takeover deal

China'sAnbang Insurance Group backing out of its $14 billion agreement to acquire StarwoodHotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., The Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported March 31, citing sourcesfamiliar with the matter.

The withdrawalof the offer puts Starwood on track to return to Marriott International Inc., which previously reached anagreement to take out the company for approximately $13.6 billion.

The offerfrom an Anbang-led consortium, which also included J.C. Flowers & Co. LLC and Primavera Capital Ltd., amountedto $82.75 per share. In disclosing the offer March 28, Starwood said the bid was"reasonably likely" to be deemed superior to Marriott's $79.53 takeoutproposal.

Anbang'sreported withdrawal is the latest episode in a series of competing bids between the insurer and Marriott, which firstreached an agreement toacquire Starwood for $65.33 per share in November 2015.

Thatagreement received a surprise blow when the Anbang group emerged March 10 with a$76.00-per-share offer,which was later increasedto $78.00 per share. Marriott fired back with its latest offer of $79.53 per share on March 21.