The Hilton group could be broken up under plans being drawn up by its owner Blackstone.
It is understood that Blackstone, which bought Hilton for $26bn at the height of the market, is considering a number of options, including the sale of portfolios of hotels to rival chains, debt-for-equity swaps, as well as public listing of certain parts of the group.
Blackstone needs to draw up the plans to maximise value from the group ahead of debt repayment deadlines in three to four years.
A source close to the group told The Independent: “These are very much early stage discussions, but clearly the $21bn worth of debt raised to buy Hilton back in 2007 isn’t going to be easily refinanced. The costs on servicing the debt aren’t onerous, but the world has changed a lot since this deal was done and preparations need to be made.”
However Blackstone has denied reports for any split, and a spokeswoman for the group told BTN that plans for a breakup of Hilton were “categorically untrue”.
It is thought that at the height of the market slump, Blackstone could have lost up to half of the value of its investment, due to both consumers and business travellers cutting back on their travel spend.
In the deal, Blackstone acquired nearly 3,000 properties and 480,000 rooms, adding to a portfolio of other hotel assets, to make it the world’s biggest operator.
News of possible changes comes as the hotel and travel market suffers one of the toughest years in recent memory.
Last week, the owners of the private Hyatt hotel chain unveiled plans to offer an initial public offering.
The Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which is 85 per cent owned by the secretive Pritzker family, one of the world’s richest dynasties, hopes to raise as much as $1.15 billion (£685 million).
This week InterContinental Hotels reports its half-yearly results, with analysts expecting the group to post weak numbers to the market.
Profits are expected to nearly halve to around $160m, while the key revenue per available room measure is expected to have slumped by as much as 14 per cent compared to the same six-month period last year.