The Hilton hotels brand was brought back under single ownership yesterday in a £3.3 billion deal.
‘UK-based Hilton Group sold its hotels and leisure business to United States cousin Hilton Hotels Corporation (HHC) in a move which reunited the company after more than 40 years apart following a split in 1964.
‘The deal brings together approximately 2,300 hotels in the US owned by HHC and about 400 around the world owned by Hilton Group, including 68 in the UK.
‘Hilton Group, which is based in Watford, Hertfordshire, also owns Ladbrokes and will be renamed Ladbrokes on completion of the deal.
‘The agreement follows the earlier sale of 16 hotels in the UK and brings the total amount paid to Hilton Group for its hotels and leisure business Hilton International to £3.7 billion.
‘...In a statement to the stock market, Hilton Group said Sir Ian Robertson would continue as chairman of Ladbrokes while Christopher Bell would become chief executive.
‘Hilton Group said it expected ‘a substantial amount of cash will be returned to shareholders’ in the second quarter of 2006.
‘...Analysts said an independent Ladbrokes may look to expand.
‘It could now begin targeting the lucrative US betting market - Ladbrokes said that was ‘an option’. And it could move in on casino operator Rank Group before Ladbrokes itself becomes vulnerable to a bid.
‘Last week, Hilton admitted it had received approaches for Ladbrokes which industry sources said included BC Partners, Blackstone and CVC Capital which could value the gambling chain at £3-4 billion.
‘Conrad Hilton bought his first hotel in 1919 and the first Hilton brand hotel was built in Dallas in 1926. Hilton expanded across the US and then bought its first European hotel in Madrid in 1953 before financial strains forced a split in 1964. Ladbrokes acquired the Hilton business outside the US in 1987, and changed its name to Hilton in 1999.
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