Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has filed to spin off its vacation ownership business into a separate, publicly traded company to take advantage of growth in the time-share industry. The Connecticut-based company first reported plans of a spinoff in February. Time-share businesses were a one-time booming profit generator for hotel companies that petered out during the recession. Starwood's plans follow those from Marriott International Inc., which made a similar move about four years ago. Starwood bought its vacation-ownership company, called Starwood Vacation Ownership, in 1999. The new public company, to be named Vistana Signature Experiences, will have resorts in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. The spinoff will be done through a pro-rata distribution of the new stock to current Starwood stockholders. In April, Starwood said it was exploring strategic alternatives to create value, sparking speculation about a possible sale, and the potential for broader merger activity in the hotel industry. Starwood has struggled to make its mark in the limited-service hotel sector, where its rivals' midmarket brands such as Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn have helped power earnings and drive growth. Shares, inactive premarket, have risen about 3% in the past 12 months through Monday's close.
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