Hilton Hotels said Thursday it will buy the hotel assets of Britain's Hilton Group for $5.7 billion cash, creating the world's biggest hotel...
LOS ANGELES — Hilton Hotels said Thursday it will buy the hotel assets of Britain’s Hilton Group for $5.7 billion cash, creating the world’s biggest hotel company by revenue.
The deal reunites two brands that split in the 1960s, allowing Hilton to instantly overtake rivals such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International. It also makes Hilton, which had been limited in scope to the United States and Canada, a global player, which will allow the company to expand some of its well-known domestic brands, such as Hampton Inn, to India, China and other markets.
When done, Hilton Hotels will operate nearly 2,800 hotels and 475,000 rooms in 80 countries. Its brand names will include Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Scandic and Hilton Grand Vacations Club.
“This transaction represents the final and logical step in a process that began in 1997 with the signing of our strategic alliance and is a unique opportunity to once again position [Hilton] as a global lodging-industry leader for the first time in more than 40 years,” said Stephen Bollenbach, Hilton Hotel’s co-chairman and chief executive.
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After the deal closes, Hilton will have about 20 percent of its rooms outside the U.S., about the same ratio as Marriott, Randall said.
The company said it expects to save about $30 million per year from consolidating technology, billing and other functions. Layoffs will be minimal, executives said.
Hilton Group owns the rights to the Hilton brand outside the U.S. and operates more than 400 hotels under the Hilton, Conrad and Scandic name in 80 countries.
It also owns betting shop Ladbrokes, with has some 2,000 shops in Belgium, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Hilton Hotels spun off its international business to shareholders in 1964 and it ultimately acquired Ladbroke Group, which changed its name to Hilton Group.
Hilton said it will continue its strategy of selling off hotels and entering into more lucrative management and franchising deals. This year, Hilton sold about 20 hotels for more than $1 billion.
That was welcome news to investors, who had sold Hilton’s stock when news of the negotiations first broke in October because they felt the company might need to slow its asset-sale plan and stock buybacks to finance a deal.
Thursday, Hilton said it would halt stock buybacks temporarily while it sold enough assets to reduce its debt. Hilton will finance its purchase with about $1.2 billion in cash on hand and will borrow the rest.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer in my view,” said Jeffrey Randall, a financial analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons. “It creates a more diverse revenue base and a more diverse growth platform.”
Hilton trades at a lower valuation than its rivals because it has lacked a global presence. Thursday, executives and analysts said the stock should benefit from the deal, which gives it the chance to grow in Asia and Europe.
The deal, which had been expected since October, sent shares of Hilton up nearly 8 percent to $24 at the end of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange, close to a 52-week high of $25.81. Shares of Hilton Group rose 4.3 percent on the London Stock Exchange.
Under the terms of the deal, Beverly Hills, California-based Hilton Hotel will only acquire the British company’s lodging operations. Hilton Group will change its name to Ladbrokes PLC and focus on its online and in-store betting operation, which has hundreds of locations in Europe.
The deal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval on both sides of the Atlantic. Both companies said it was likely to be completed by the first quarter of 2006.