InterContinental Declines After Damping Takeover Speculation

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InterContinental Hotels Group Plc fell for the first time in four sessions after the company said it isn’t in merger talks with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

InterContinental was down 1.6 percent at 2,698 pence at the close of trading in London Friday, paring yesterday’s 4.6 percent gain.

“Following recent market speculation, the board of directors of IHG states that it is not in talks with Starwood with a view to a combination of the businesses,” InterContinental said in a statement after the market closed Thursday. That was in response to a Financial Times report that it has held early-stage merger talks with the U.S. lodging company.

Starwood said in April that it was exploring strategic options, fueling speculation of a potential merger with a competitor such as Denham, England-based InterContinental, with brands including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands.

In a conference call with analysts Thursday, Stephen Pettibone, vice president of investor relations for Starwood, said the company’s exploration of options to increase value was “well under way.”

InterContinental has climbed about 4 percent this year, while the FTSE 100 Index has risen 2 percent.

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