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LONDON-Hilton Hotels Corp. has exchanged contracts to sell two of its largest UK hotels–the 1,054-room Hilton London Metropole and the 794-room Hilton Birmingham Metropole. The new owner is Edward Wojakovski’s family-owned Tonstate property group, and the price was euro 621 million ($782.28 million).

Under the terms of the sale/manage-back transaction, which is expected to close before year-end, Hilton will retain long-term management contracts on both hotels. As part of the deal, Tonstate has agreed to provide the necessary investment to continue renovation programs at each of the properties, both of which have extensive conference and banqueting facilities.

Robert La Forgia, Hilton’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, says that the sale of the assets would hike the amount raised by the company since it launched an asset-disposal program in early 2005 to more than $2 billion. “The hotel transaction market continues to be vibrant,” he says. “Consistent with our strategy to grow the managed and franchised business and reduce hotel ownership, we intend to place further hotels on the market. We have recently listed 11 properties across Europe and are evaluating alternatives for the Scandic Hotels brand.”

Hilton will use the proceeds from the sale of the hotels to pay down the debt taken on to fund the $6.2-billion acquisition this year of Hilton International, a deal that reunited the Hilton brand globally for the first time since 1964.

Hilton was advised by Christie & Co. while Tonstate, which already owns the Ramada and Travelodge hotels at Glasgow Airport, was advised by CBRE Hotels.

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