Hilton’s whole once again

Jan 3, 2006 4:23 AM

It took four decades for the two to find themselves but finally the Hilton hotel chain will be whole once again.

Hilton Hotels Corp. (HLT) has announced that it officially is buying the international part of the hotel company owned by the Hilton Group PLC for $5.7 billion.

Back in the 1960’s, Conrad Hilton split the worldwide hotel company by selling off its international holdings to the British company while retaining ownership of the properties located in the U.S. and Canada.

Steve Bollenbach, Hilton Hotels Corp. co-chairman and CEO, authored the deal that reunites the Hilton brand name and creates a company that will own 2,800 hotels with 475,000 rooms in 80 countries. Among the brand names that it will control are the Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Scandia and Hilton Grand Vacations Club.

In announcing the deal, Bollenbach remarked, "This transaction represents the final and logical step in a process that began in 1997 with the singing of our strategic alliance and is a unique opportunity to once again position Hilton Hotels Corp. as a global lodging industry leader for the first time in more than 40 years."

Not included in the acquisition will be the gambling empire owned by the Hilton Group that operates under the brand name of Ladbrokes PLC. Several companies reportedly have indicated an interest in acquiring Ladbrokes and the company’s sale will determine whether the Hilton Group will continue to function as an operating entity.

Hilton Hotels Corp. was at one time an active participant in the gaming industry with casinos operating in several jurisdictions including Nevada. However in the 1990s, the company split its hotel-casinos into a separate publicly traded division called Park Place Entertainment Inc. That company eventually became Caesars Entertainment and was acquired by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.