Chris Nassetta, Hilton President and CEO, reflects on how Blackstone Inc. brought him on to run the hotel chain in 2007 just before the Great Recession. Blackstone bought the company for about $26 billion. He is interviewed by David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and former Co-CEO of Carlyle.

When Hilton was a publicly traded company, Blackstone bought the firm for roughly $26bn. Back then,  people thought it was a high price at the time given the large amount of debt. When asked, if Nassetta was worried that the deal wasn’t going to work at all, he recalls: “The truth is there were some tense moments at the beginning of the Great Recession, but we never lost faith. John Gray and I knew we had a really good strategy and we were building a world class team. Don’t panic if you’ve got a good strategy. With the strategy adapted to the times you’ll get to the other side – and we did.

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Further reflecting on the experience, Nassetta adds: “I definitely got more gray hairs and I’m not going to say it didn’t stress me out on occasion, but I’d love a challenge.”

To cope with the recession, Blackstone injected some more money into the deal and they bought some debt back. Eventually, the private equity giant took Hilton public and made a $14bn profit. The price is up around 600% since they took it public. When asked by Rubenstein, Nassetta reflected on the performance of the deal: “We did our job for Blackstone and their investors. They made a great profit from what looked like a difficult set up during the Great Recession. And anybody that is that bought the stock when we went public and held it has done exceptionally well”.

Source: YouTube

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