Hilton to surpass Twitter as year's biggest IPO

Last updated 09:23 04/12/2013

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Hilton Worldwide Holdings said on Monday that it could raise as much as US$2.37 billion (NZ$2.9 billion), making it one of the year's biggest IPOs (Initial Public Offerings).

The hotel operator said in a regulatory filing that the offering of 112.8 million shares is expected to price between US$18 and US$21 each.

Hilton is offering about 64.1 million shares, and selling shareholders are offering 48.7 million shares. Selling additional shares to banks could put the IPO's proceeds at as much as US$2.72b.

The IPO comes as the hotel industry has started to recover over the past two years from its battering during the recession and as the IPO market heats up. Roughly 200 companies have gone public in 2013 as markets hit record highs.

If it prices above the middle of the expected range, Hilton will have the second- or third-largest IPO this year in the US, surpassing Twitter's US$2.1b haul last month.

It would trail oil and gas pipeline company Plains GP Holdings, which raised US$2.9b in October.

Depending on where it prices and if bankers buy up Hilton's extra stock, it could also best Pfizer's spinoff, Zoetis, which raised US$2.6b in January.

But assuming shares price at US$19.50, the middle of the range, Hilton anticipates net proceeds of about US$1.21b, which it plans to use to repay debt.

That price would give the company a value of about US$19.2b.

Hilton was taken private by The Blackstone Group, an investment firm, in October 2007 for US$20b.

Blackstone will still own a majority of the voting power of shares eligible to vote in the election of board members, according to the filing.

The recession began soon after Blackstone bought Hilton. Hotel operators were hurt by a drop in business travel, fewer vacationers, falling real estate prices and a general oversupply in the US 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.

The company's history dates back nearly a century. 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.

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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.

- AP

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