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Blackstone to buy Hilton for $20 billion

business Updated: Jul 04, 2007 22:15 IST
Reuters
Blackstone

US private equity firm Blackstone Group agreed on Tuesday to buy Hilton Hotels Corp for about $20 billion plus debt, the richest in a series of recent private equity offers for hotel companies.

Under terms of deal, Blackstone will pay $47.50 per share in cash, a 32 per cent premium to Tuesday's closing price, for one of the most prominent global hotel brand names.

Blackstone, which raised $4.1 billion in an initial public offering late last month, said it intended to invest in the Hilton properties and brands globally to grow the business.

The hotel industry is enjoying a multi-year boom as robust demand has allowed hoteliers to steadily raise rates. The upbeat market environment, supported by limited construction of new hotels, has made lodging assets hot commodities.
Hilton is worth $20.1 billion, based on 424 million shares on a diluted basis at the end of March, at the price Blackstone is paying. Hilton reported more than $7 billion of debt during its January-March quarterly results.

A spokesman for Blackstone said the group was not revealing the debt and equity breakdown of the deal at this stage.
Many investors think the notoriously cyclical US hotel industry has more room to grow and could provide risk-adjusted returns that outperform other asset classes, according to Thomas Callahan, an analyst with hospitality industry tracking firm PKF Consulting in San Francisco.

"The perspective is that the industry still has a few more good years left in this upturn that began -- depending on how you count it -- several years ago," Callahan said.

Blackstone already has a significant portfolio of hotel and resort properties that includes more than 100,000 hotel rooms in the US and Europe. Its properties include La Quinta Inns and LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels.
Hilton's brands include Hilton, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and The Waldorf-Astoria Collection.

The Hilton chain was founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton, the great-grandfather of US celebrity socialite Paris Hilton. Her grandfather Barron Hilton, co-chairman of the Hilton board of directors, owns 5.3 per cent of Hilton shares, according to the company's April proxy. He is the brother of the late Conrad Nicholson Hilton Jr., called Nicky, who was the first husband of actress Elizabeth Taylor.

The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2007 and was approved by Hilton's board of directors on Tuesday, the company said.