Blackstone to end its stay at Hilton after 11 years

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(Reuters) – After holding an interest in Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc for nearly 11 years, private equity firm Blackstone Group LP has decided to exit the hotel chain operator by selling its about 5.8 percent stake.

FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), New York, NY, U.S., April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The sale of 15.8 million shares would generate about $1.32 billion, based on Hilton’s Thursday close at $83.30.

Hilton said on Friday it will not receive any proceeds from the sale and would repurchase about 1.3 million shares from the shareholders affiliated to Blackstone.

Blackstone, which took the Virginia-based company public in 2013, started shedding its stake a year later.

In June and November 2014, Blackstone raised $2.33 billion and $2.59 billion, respectively, from stock sales that progressively reduced its stake in Hilton.

Blackstone cut its stake to under 50 percent in a $2.69 billion stock sale in 2015, which was then termed as the biggest ever selldown by a private equity sponsor through a block trade.

Blackstone usually buys hotels and other real estate holdings at a discount, fixes them and sells for a profit. The private equity firm had taken Hilton private in a $26 billion leveraged buyout in 2007.

In 2016, Blackstone agreed to sell a 25 percent stake in Hilton to China’s HNA Group Co Ltd [HNAIRC.UL] for $6.5 billion, three times what it paid in 2007.

HNA, the heavily indebted aviation-to-financials conglomerate, sold the stake about a year and a half later as part of its plan to shed assets and tackle a cash crunch.

Up to Thursday’s close, Hilton’s shares had risen about 36 percent in the last year. They were nearly flat at $83.35 in premarket trading on Friday.

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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