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UPDATE 2-Hilton to raise up to $2.37 bln in biggest hotel IPO

Monday, 2 Dec 2013 | 9:34 AM ET

* Hilton can raise up to $2.72 bln if overallotment option exercised

Blackstone took Hilton private in 2007 in $26.7 bln deal

* Deutsche, Goldman Sachs, BofA and Morgan Stanley lead underwriters

* Blackstone to retain 76.2 percent of the company

* Offering represents about 11.5 percent of the company

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Hilton Worldwide Inc said its initial public offering would raise up to $2.37 billion, in what would be the biggest-ever hotel IPO and perhaps the second-biggest IPO of the year.

Hilton, controlled by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, would be valued at about $20.7 billion at the high end of the expected price range for its shares.

The company did not say whether it would launch its IPO before the end of the year. But if it does, it would be the second-biggest IPO of 2013 after oil pipeline holding company Plains GP Holdings LP, which raised $2.82 billion.

Blackstone took Hilton private in 2007 in a $26.7 billion deal that was one of the largest leveraged buyouts before the 2008 global financial crisis.

Hyatt Hotels Corp raised about $950 million in 2009 in the biggest hotel IPO while another Blackstone-backed hotel company, Extended Stay America Inc, raised about $565 million last month.

Blackstone, which is not directly selling any of its shares, will hold 76.2 percent of Hilton after the IPO.

Hilton expects to price the offering of 112.8 million shares at between $18 and $21 per share, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. ()

The offering represents about 11.5 percent of the company.

Hilton is selling 64.1 million shares in the offering, raising about $1.3 billion at the top end of the price range. Shareholders will offer the remaining 48.7 million shares.

HOTEL INDUSTRY RECOVERING

The U.S. hotel industry has been recovering, allowing hotels to increase room rates.

The hotel industry's revenue per available room, a measure of room rates and occupancy levels, is expected to grow by 5.9 percent in 2013 and by 6.2 percent in 2014, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Dow Jones U.S. Hotels index has risen 30 percent this year.

The IPO could raise $2.72 billion if underwriters exercise their rights to buy another 16.9 million shares.

The company said it would use the proceeds from the offering to repay $1.25 billion of debt.

Founded in 1919 by Conrad Hilton, Hilton's brands include such high-end names as Conrad and Waldorf Astoria.

Hilton, which operates in 90 countries, has 4,041 hotels, or 665,667 rooms, under its umbrella.

The company itself owns or leases 157 hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria in New York and the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Blackstone's plans for an IPO of Hilton come as private equity firms sell or list assets to take advantage of a surging IPO market that has been spurred by a market rally and low interest rates that have encouraged investors to buy stocks.

Blackstone also plans an IPO of hotel chain La Quinta, sources told Reuters last week.

The investment firm also listed Brixmor Property Group Inc earlier this year.

Hilton will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HLT".

Lead underwriters for the offering are Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley. The company said on Monday that J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo Securities and 18 others would also underwrite the IPO.