SAN FRANCISCO—Activist shareholder Marcato Capital Management, headquartered here, is urging Intercontinental Hotels Group to explore a merger with a rival. The investment manager on Thursday issued a statement following published reports that UK-based IHG, the world’s largest hotelier with seven brands and 4,700 properties, had rejected an unsolicited $10.1-billion takeover offer.

A statement attributed to Mick McGuire, Marcato’s founder and managing partner, says that while the veracity of the published reports cannot be determined, Marcato believes that an IHG combination with a larger hotel operator would have “compelling strategic and financial merit,” representing “a unique opportunity to reshape the global hospitality industry.” McGuire, whose firm owns approximately 3.8% of IHG’s outstanding shares, says Marcato strongly encourages IHG’s board “to explore such a combination.”

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