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Hilton Plans Biggest Hotel IPO

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Hilton Worldwide said its initial public offering would raise up to USD$2.37 billion in the biggest-ever hotel IPO.

Hilton is expected to launch its initial public offering this month and the sale of about 11.5 percent of its shares would value the company at up to USD$32.5 billion, including debt.

Blackstone took Hilton private in 2007 for USD$26.7 billion, including debt, in one of the largest leveraged buyouts before the 2008 global financial crisis.

Blackstone has invested about USD$6.8 billion in Hilton and its 76.2 percent stake after the IPO will be worth up to USD$15.7 billion. It is not selling any shares in the offering.

"The Blackstone Group has timed the Hilton IPO at the perfect market inflection points of increasing global consumer travel demand, daily room rates, and occupancy," said Christopher Muller, a professor at Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration.

The US hotel industry has been recovering with room rates and occupancy levels expected to increase in 2014, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Dow Jones US Hotels index has risen 30 percent so far this year.

Blackstone's plans for an IPO of Hilton come as private equity firms sell or list assets to take advantage of a surging IPO market that has been spurred by a market rally and low interest rates that have encouraged investors to buy stocks.

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Hilton expects to price the offering of 112.8 million shares at between USD$18 and USD$21 per share, giving the company an equity value of USD$20.7 billion, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

Hilton is selling 64.1 million shares in the offering, raising about USD$1.3 billion at the top end of the price range. Shareholders will offer the remaining 48.7 million shares.

The IPO could raise USD$2.72 billion if underwriters exercise their rights to buy another 16.9 million shares.

The company said it would use the proceeds from the offering to repay USD$1.25 billion of its total debt of USD$11.8 billion as of September 30.

Founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton, Hilton's brands include Conrad and Waldorf Astoria.

Hilton, which operates in 90 countries, has 4,041 hotels, or 665,667 rooms, under its umbrella.

(Reuters)

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