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Founded almost a century ago by Conrad N. Hilton who opened his first hotel in a small Texas town in 1919, Hilton Worldwide has kept expanding and reinventing itself to become one of the leading hotel groups. Today, the #2 hotel group worldwide operates close to 800,000 hotel rooms through a 14-brand portfolio. Its non-domestic footprint is especially strong thanks to the group's early internationalisation, initiated in the 1950s.
Conrad N. Hilton opened its first hotel in 1919 as it bought a Texan property. After growing its business in the Lone Star State in the following years, in 1925 he opened the first hotel bearing his name, the Dallas Hilton. The success story continued in the Northeast, as from 1943 the group operated its first two hotels in NYC. One of them, Roosevelt Hilton, would be one of the first worldwide, in 1947, to compliment its guests with in-room TVs.
In 1949, Hilton International was born as the group opened its first property outside the United States, in Puerto Rico. The 50's were also a time for innovation at the Hilton group, still led by its founder, as it introduces in-room A/C, a telephone and telegram central reservation system, and its first property in Istanbul (1955). In 1966, Conrad's son, Barron Hilton, took the helm of Hilton Hotels Corporation, which had been separated in 1965 from Hilton International, a division sold in 1967 to Trans World Airlines.
In 1969, the DoubleTree by Hilton brand opened its first hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. The death of Conrad Hilton, founder and patriarch of the Hilton powerhouse, occurred in 1979 but didn't stop the group's expansion. Hilton diversified and created numerous brands as Embassy Suites (1984), Hampton Inn (1984), Homewood Suites (1989) and Hilton Garden Inn (1990) opened their first hotels. In 2006, « the family is reunited » : Hilton International, a separate entity since the spin-off and takeover by Trans World Airlines in 1967, is bought back by its original owner, Hilton Hotels Corporation. In 2007, the private equity fund Blackstone takes over the whole company through a $26.7 billion LBO (incl. about $6Bi equity and $20Bi debt); the group is then delisted.
The hotel group we know today was (re)incorporated in 2009 as it became Hilton Worldwide, gathering the numerous hotels operated under its brands worldwide. Its brands pursued their expansion, covering an ever larger spectrum, from Economy hotels (Tru by Hilton) to luxury (Waldor Astoria). In crisis years, its shareholder renegotiated and continued to let the group pay back its debt, then at a low -hence attractive- value. In 2013, the group reached the 4,000-hotel milestone and make a successful comeback on stock markets through an IPO that valued the group at $33Bi (incl. about $13 billion in debt and $20 billion market capitalization), while Blackstone remained a majority shareholder. Meanwhile, the Hilton group pursued its operational development and launched a new generation of brands with Curio (2013) and Canopy by Hilton (2014).
In the beginning of 2016, Hilton Worldwide announced its decision to split its business in three separate entities, a strategic move executed in the following year. The hotel group, its real estate assets (gathered into a REIT) and its timeshare division are now separate businesses. Later, Blackstone -still Hilton's key shareholder- sold a 25% stake to the Chinese HNA, then on an acquisition binge. In May 2017, Blackstone divested another $1 billion from Hilton while doing a similar move in other hotel companies in which it was invested.
In parallel to these strategic moves, Hilton Worldwide kept consolidating its position as a leading global hotel group through strong organic growth. The Tapestry Collection, a soft brand positioned on the upscale segment, is the latest addition to the group's brand portfolio.