Shake-up at Hilton lifts shares

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The Independent Online

Hilton Hotels Corporation's shares went into overdrive on Wall street yesterday after the company announced a radical boardroom shake-up that involves the appointment of the first non-family member as chief executive.

The company, one of the world's leading hotel companies, has recruited Stephen Bollenbach from Walt Disney to replace Barron Hilton, who remains as chairman. Mr Bollenbach only joined Walt Disney as finance director last April, and was the chief architect of the entertainment and media company's merger with Capital Cities and ABC.

Mr Bollenbach will hold sway over all decision-making at Hilton. "I told him when he came in, 'Steve, you're calling the shots'," Mr Hilton, 68, said. "He's got it all. I'm delighted."

Shares in Hilton, owner of the 1,900 room Waldorf Astoria in New York and the 1,500-room Chicago Hilton & Towers, leapt $9.50 to $83.25. Disney, which announced that Mr Bollenbach would be replaced by former finance director Richard Nanula, fell almost $1.50 to $60.50.

The move to recruit Mr Bollenbach was interpreted by analysts as a sign of big change ahead for Hilton. One said it was "more than likely" that Hilton would be reshaped significantly. "At Marriott he was the financial architect of restructuring, which dramatically reshaped that company and significantly aided shareholders. We expect long-term benefits to surface with speculation resurfacing regarding the sale or split of assets."