Hilton Has Big Plans for Europe; Sells Scandic

Hilton Hotels Corporation has revealed aggressive growth plans for Europe in the coming years. The news was announced at ITB, where the hotel company said it anticipates adding 1,000 hotels within North America in the next five years, and 1,000 hotels internationally over the next 10 years. Hilton said the United Kingdom is being eyed for mid-market development and conversion opportunities, while Spain is being considered for new builds and conversions. Italy is a target for franchise opportunities, while Germany has potential growth for new hotels in the mid-market sector. Russia is being seen as a country with opportunities to develop full-service hotels. Hilton this year will open 16 Hilton hotels in Europe and another nine (including a Hilton Garden Inn in Frankfurt) by 2009, along the way entering four new markets: Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Portugal. To oversee this growth, the company opened four new development offices opened in Europe in late 2006 in Moscow, Vienna, Madrid and Frankfurt. The news comes on the heels of Hilton's announcement that it is selling its Scandic Hotel chain for $1.1 billion to EQT, a private equity group with operations in Northern Europe and Greater China. Scandic is the largest hotel operator in the Nordic region and operates full service hotels in the mid-market segment. Plans are for Hilton to maintain a Nordic presence with six Hilton hotels: three in Finland (including the Hilton Helsinki Vantaa Airport due to open in August 2007), two in Sweden and one in Denmark at Copenhagen airport.

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