US-based hotel and leisure firm Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced it is exploring strategic and financial alternatives to enhance its share value.
The hotel firm hired financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard to assist it in the process, which led to speculation about a possible sale and merger activity in the hotel industry.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide board chairman Bruce Duncan said: "Our board has always been focused on maximising long-term shareholder value, and this is a time of enormous opportunity and change in our industry.
"Accordingly, we will thoroughly explore the full range of strategic and financial alternatives available to Starwood to capitalise on our industry-leading global platform and best-in-class premium brands."
Rumours about Starwood’s future were strengthened in February when its chief executive Frits van Paasschen left, resulting in slow growth, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Less rooms at Starwood’s properties compared to Marriott and Hilton Worldwide is also said to be one of the reasons prompting Starwood to explore alternatives as it is struggling to create its mark in the limited-service hotel sector.
Starwood, through its brands, operates 1,200 properties in 100 countries worldwide. The firm’s brands include St Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, Element and recently introduced Tribute Portfolio.