Hilton Hotels have appointed Christopher J. Nassetta as President and Chief Executive Officer of Hilton. Mr. Nassetta currently leads Host Hotels and Resorts, the largest owner of luxury and upscale hotels in the world. Mr. Nassetta joins Hilton as the company moves into an exciting new phase of growth, both in the U.S. and abroad.
The Blackstone Group’s real estate and corporate private equity funds completed the acquisition of Hilton on October 24, 2007. Blackstone views Hilton as an important strategic investment and intends to invest in its properties and brands to enhance the Company’s growth. As stated at the time of the initial announcement in July, Blackstone has no intention of selling any brands or major assets as a result of the transaction.
Jonathan Gray, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone said, “Our goal with Hilton is to build the premier global hospitality company. We are confident that Chris will be a superb addition to the already strong Hilton team. Given his background overseeing the world’s largest hotel ownership company, Chris understands the needs of hotel owners and is uniquely qualified to lead Hilton. I’ve known Chris personally for 15 years and have worked successfully side-by-side with him in the past. He’s a man of the absolute highest integrity, who cares deeply about people. He has the energy, enthusiasm and experience to lead Hilton, and it’s with great pleasure that we welcome him to the team.”
Blackstone’s strategy includes maintaining strong unit growth in the U.S., where more than 20% of all hotel rooms currently under construction carry a Hilton brand. Blackstone will also invest to accelerate the company’s international growth, building on recent agreements to expand the Hilton family of brands outside of the U.S. through a series of strategic partnerships. It was only last year that Hilton merged with Hilton International, a transaction which created a new set of global opportunities for the company. Additionally, Blackstone intends to incorporate a significant portion of its existing portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts onto the Hilton platform, adding to the luxury offerings available to Hilton customers. Blackstone’s holdings include such upscale properties as The Boulders Resort and Spa (Arizona), The El Conquistador Resort (Puerto Rico), and The Boca Raton Resort and Club (Florida).
Chris Nassetta commented, “I am excited to join this great company and am looking forward to working with Hilton’s franchisees, owners and team members to grow this already impressive franchise. Hilton has a powerful collection of brands and we now have the opportunity to build on the strong foundation that already exists to drive the company’s growth, particularly overseas, to create the pre-eminent lodging company in the world. I also look forward to working with Blackstone, who I know from experience will be a terrific strategic partner for Hilton going forward.”
As President and CEO of Hilton, Mr. Nassetta will oversee Hilton’s extensive line of quality brands, including: Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and The Waldorf=Astoria Collection. Mr. Nassetta intends to work closely with the existing management team, including Thomas Keltner, Chief Executive Officer - Americas and Global Brands, and Ian Carter, Chief Executive Officer - Hilton International. As previously announced, Stephen F. Bollenbach retired from the company last week upon the completion of the transaction. Additionally, Matthew J. Hart will step down as president and chief operating officer but will serve as a member of Hilton’s Board of Directors.