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Starwood Capital explores IPO

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February 20, 2014

Starwood Capital explores IPO

Hospitality News: Wall Street Photo: Rainer Sturm  / pixelio.deBarry Sternlicht, a star real-estate investor and founder of the W hotel chain, is in early talks with banks about selling shares of his investment firm to the public, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mr. Sternlicht is chairman and chief executive of Starwood Capital Group, which has $33 billion in assets under management and is one of the world’s largest property investors with stakes in hotels, office buildings, apartment complexes and shopping malls.

The 53-year-old also owns the vast majority of the firm, and an initial public offering could give him a chance to partially cash out after building Starwood Capital over more than two decades.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based firm’s talks are still in the exploratory stage and may not lead to an IPO, according to people briefed on the matter.

A spokesman for Mr. Sternlicht said he declined to comment.

Until last year, the public listings of private-equity funds and other alternative investment firms had struggled. But in 2013, buoyed by a strong IPO market that helped them sell past investments at relatively high valuations, their shares rallied. Blackstone Group LP, for example, has doubled since the beginning of 2013, and for the first time since 2007 is trading above its IPO price.?Fortress Investment Group?FIG?-1.73%?LLC, however, is still trading at about half of its 2007 debut price.

Mr. Sternlicht was educated at Brown University and Harvard before he began investing in property in the 1980s. In 1991, he started Starwood Capital. A few years later, he foundedStarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide?Inc.,?HOT?+0.13%?where he created the popular W Hotel chain of boutique hotels.

Mr. Sternlicht left the hotel company in 2005, returning to Starwood Capital full-time. Starwood Capital once owned the hotel group entirely but sold down its interest after Starwood Hotels went public.

While Starwood Capital’s main business is real-estate investing, the firm has an energy infrastructure private-equity fund and runs two public companies:?Starwood Property Trust,?STWD?-1.03%?a commercial mortgage real-estate investment trust, and Starwood European Real Estate Finance Ltd., which is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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Source The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304899704579389004215254092?mod=dist_smartbrief

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