Hilton Makes Triumphant Return to the NYSE

Hilton Hotel, Lima, Peru

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT), the world’s largest hotel chain, returned to the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday in the second-biggest IPO of the year. Shares finished up 7.5 percent to $21.50 on Thursday afternoon after pricing at $20.

Hilton was taken private by Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) in 2007. Now the hotel chain that’s associated with some iconic locations and some famous heiresses is public again after Blackstone raised $2.35 billion by selling 117.6 million shares at $20 each in advance of the IPO. The Associated Press said that Blackstone will remain the majority voting power and won’t be selling any of its shares in the company.

According to the Associated Press, Hilton’s return to the NYSE is the biggest hotel IPO ever. Forbes pointed out that though Twitter’s (NYSE:TWTR) IPO was probably the most talked-about of 2013, Twitter only raised $1.82 billion. Hilton’s return as a publicly traded company bumped Twitter down to the fourth-largest IPO of the year. The hotelier was founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton. The chain now operates 4,000 hotels with 670,000 rooms across 90 countries and several different brands, Reuters reports. Luxury hotel names under Hilton’s umbrella include Conrad and Waldorf Astoria.

At the beginning of the month, Hilton doubled the amount of money it was looking to raise with the IPO. The hotel chain initially filed an S-1 prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in September, but revised the document at the beginning of December to reflect a more ambitious strategy. The company plans to use the cash to pay down on its debt, which will allow it to more aggressively pursue its international growth strategy.

In the past five-year period, Hilton reports it has grown systemwide open rooms by 34 percent, “which represents the highest growth rate of any major lodging company,” according to its S-1 prospectus. More than 80 percent of rooms under construction are outside of the U.S., which is key for the company. Hilton already leads in the U.S. and has much more growth potential internationally. The IPO’s underwriters include Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).

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