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NEW YORK CITY-Hilton Hotels Corp. and the Blackstone Group today confirmed the appointment of Christopher Nassetta as president and CEO of Hilton. The appointment comes just five days after the Blackstone Group’s real estate and corporate private equity funds wrapped up its $26 billion acquisition of Los Angeles-based Hilton, as previously reported.

A source at locally based Blackstone tells that Nassetta will be based in Beverly Hills, CA. He also notes that the transition will be completed in the next three to four weeks.

Blackstone views Hilton as an important strategic investment and intends to invest in its properties and brands to enhance the company’s growth, according to a release. As stated at the time of initial announcement in July, Blackstone has no intention of selling any brands or major assets as a result of the transaction.

Nassetta will join Hilton from Host Hotels & Resorts, where he has been president and CEO since 2000. Prior to joining Host, Nassetta co-founded Bailey Capital Corp. in 1991, where he was responsible for the operations of the real estate investment and advisory firm. He also spent seven years serving as chief development officer and in various other positions with the Oliver Carr Co.

Jonathan Gray, senior managing director of Blackstone notes that Nassetta will be a superb addition to the already strong Hilton team. “Our goal with Hilton is to build the premier global hospitality company,” he says in a prepared statement. “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.”

Gray continues that he has known Nassetta, who he has known for 15 years, is a man with energy, enthusiasm and experience to lead Hilton. “He’s a man of the absolute highest integrity, who cares deeply about people,” he says.

Blackstone’s strategy includes maintaining strong unit growth in the US, 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 US through a series of strategic partnerships.

Nassetta notes that he is “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.”

It was only last year that Hilton merged with Hilton International, a transaction which created a new set of global opportunities for the company, according to a release. 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 in Arizona, the El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico and the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Florida.

As president and CEO of Hilton, Nassetta will oversee Hilton’s 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. Nassetta intends to work closely with the existing management team, including Thomas Keltner, CEO of the Americas and Global Brands and Ian Carter, CEO of Hilton International. Stephen Bollenbach retired from the company last week upon the completion of the transaction. Additionally, Matthew Hart will step down as president and COO, but will serve as a member of Hilton’s board of directors.

Nassetta also serves as a director of CoStar Group Inc., is second vice chair and serves on the Board of Governors of National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, is a member and chairman of The Real Estate Roundtable, and is a member of the McIntire School of Commerce Advisory Board for the University of Virginia.

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