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Outsider Steps Into Hilton Leadership

Barron Hilton placed Hilton Hotels Corp.’s future in the hands of a non-family member for the first time Monday, calling veteran hotel-casino executive Stephen F. Bollenbach “my greatest acquisition.”

After three decades as chief executive of the country’s best-known hotel and casino company, Hilton said he’s now ready to spend more time golfing, hunting, fishing and visiting his ranch on the California-Nevada border.

“I told him, ‘Steve, you’re calling the shots from now on and I’m not,”’ said Hilton, whose recent tenure has been marked by unsuccessful attempts to sell the company or spin off casinos in a separate operation.

The announcement that Bollenbach would leave his job as Walt Disney Co.’s chief financial officer to run Hilton was made after the close of trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

As Barron Hilton and Bollenbach appeared at a Beverly Hills news conference Monday, Hilton’s stock was shooting up. It rose by 14 percent by afternoon to $84.12-1/2, up $10.25. Disney shares were down 37-1/2 cents at $61.62-1/2.

The Salomon Bros. brokerage rated Hilton stock “strong buy,” up from “buy.” Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley initiated stock analyst coverage with “outperform” and “strong buy” ratings. Morgan Stanley set a 12-month target of $100, 35 percent higher than its Friday close.

Tags: business

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