Hilton’s Triple Play Adds to Hotel Sector Makeover

Hilton's planned REIT launch and timeshare spinoff are the latest in a series of blockbuster moves reshaping the hospitality sector.

McLean, Va.Hilton Worldwide’s plan to divide itself into three companies is the only the latest in a series of dramatic moves reshaping the hospitality sector.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Tuscany Village. Photo (c) 2016 Hilton Grand Vacations

Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Tuscany Village. Photo (c) 2016 Hilton Grand Vacations

Announced on February 26, the plan confirms reports late last year that the hotel giant was considering a restructuring. Hilton wants to spin off about 70 properties representing 35,000 keys into a REIT, which it said would rank it among the largest hotel REITs.

The company has yet to detail specific properties that would be spun off into the new entities, but in a statement on Friday, Hilton promised that the REIT’s portfolio would include “luxury and upper-upscale assets, located across high-barrier-to-entry urban and convention markets, top resort destinations, select international regions and strategic airport locations.”

Also in the works is a spinoff of vacation timeshare business, Hilton Grand Vacations, into a public company. That deal would involve a long-term license with an operator that would retain the timeshare business’ Hilton brand name. A statement on Hilton Grand Vacations’ website says that Mark Wang, the unit’s current president, will be president and CEO of the new company.

Mark Wang, currently president of Hilton Grand Vacations. Photo (c) 2016 Hilton Grand Vacations

Mark Wang, currently president of Hilton Grand Vacations. Photo (c) 2016 Hilton Grand Vacations

If the timeshare spinoff passes muster with regulators and Hilton’s board, it would be the latest in a series of such moves. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc. announced plans in February 2015 to spin off Vistana Signature Experiences, its timeshare affiliate.

Once the spinoff is complete, Interval Leisure Group will merge with Vistana in a $1.5 billion deal expected to close by April 1.  Also in the works is Marriott International Inc.’s $12.2 billion acquisition of Starwood; that transaction is on track to closing in mid-2016.

Hilton is able to pursue its spinoff strategy because it approached the Internal Revenue Service for a ruling before the December 7 deadline specified in legislation designed to curtail spinoffs. As a result, the proposed spinoffs would be considered grandfathered.

“The transactions announced today will result in three pure-play companies, enabling dedicated management teams to fully activate their respective businesses, taking advantage of both organic and inorganic growth opportunities as well as capital market and tax efficiencies,” said Hilton Worldwide president & CEO Christopher Nassetta on Friday in the statement announcing the plans.