Hilton expects $18 to $21 per share from IPO

Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide sets price range for IPO of about 112.8 million shares

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. plans to offer approximately 112.8 million shares in an initial public offering of its common stock, returning to the public markets about six years after it went private.

The hotel operator disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that the offering is expected to price between $18 and $21 per share. Assuming shares price at the midpoint, the company anticipates raising net proceeds of about $1.21 billion.

The McLean, Va.-based company plans to use the net proceeds from the offering and available cash to repay about $1.25 billion of debt. Extra funds raised would be used to pay back more debt or for other general corporate purposes.

Hotel operators were hurt during the recession due to a drop in business travel, fewer vacationers, falling real estate prices and a general oversupply in the U.S. market. In the past two years, the industry has started to turn around as business travel is improving and room rates are rising.

Hilton has 4,080 hotels, resorts and timeshare properties. Its brands include Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, and Hampton Inn. The company's properties range from full-service hotels and properties that provide a limited amount of specific services to luxury resorts and a timeshare brand.

Company founder Conrad Hilton purchased his first hotel, the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas, in 1919. The first hotel to have the Hilton name was built in Dallas in 1925. Hilton says that the pina colada cocktail was invented at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico in 1954. Its franchise program was launched in 1965, and in 1971 John Lennon handwrote the lyrics to "Imagine" on a piece of New York Hilton stationery while at the hotel.

In 1975 the Muppet characters Statler and Waldorf were introduced, named after two Hilton properties in New York. The HHonors guest loyalty program debuted in 1987 — it now has 39 million members. The company's website, hilton.com, launched in 1995, followed by its first smartphone app in 2009.

Hilton was taken private by The Blackstone Group investment firm in October 2007 for $20 billion. The Blackstone Group will still own a majority of the voting power of shares eligible to vote in the election of board members, according to the filing.

Hilton is offering about 64.1 million shares, and selling shareholders are offering approximately 48.7 million shares.

The stock is expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HLT."

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