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HomeNewsBusiness WireHilton to Accelerate Expansion in Fast-Growing Lifestyle Category with Addition of Graduate...

Hilton to Accelerate Expansion in Fast-Growing Lifestyle Category with Addition of Graduate Hotels to Global Brand Portfolio

Pairing Loyal Graduate Fanbase with Size and Scale of Hilton Will Create New Opportunities for Owners and Guests in Some of the World’s Greatest College Towns

MCLEAN, Va. & NASHVILLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Hilton (NYSE: HLT) today announced an agreement with Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (“AJ Capital”) to acquire the fan-favorite Graduate Hotels® brand, adding a significant growth opportunity for the global hospitality leader in the fast-growing lifestyle hotel market.




Hilton will pay $210 million to acquire all rights to the Graduate brand worldwide, enter into franchise agreements for all existing and signed pipeline Graduate Hotels, and become responsible for the brand’s future development and growth. AJ Capital will remain the owner of the more than 35 operating and pipeline Graduate properties, each of which will be operated under long-term Hilton franchise agreements.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions including review and approval pursuant to Hart-Scott-Rodino, will be immediately accretive to Hilton. The company expects the fee contribution for the first full year of ownership to be approximately $16 million.

“Adding Graduate Hotels to our portfolio of award-winning brands accelerates our expansion in the lifestyle space by pairing an existing much-loved brand with the power of Hilton’s strong commercial engine to drive growth,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “We have long had a high bar for adding brands to our portfolio, whether organically or through acquisition, and Graduate will be another driver of growth for us, presenting a unique opportunity to serve more guests in more sought-after destinations. With thousands of colleges and universities around the world, we believe the addressable market for the Graduate brand is 400-500 hotels globally.”

The addition of Graduate Hotels to Hilton’s global portfolio will offer millions of travelers access to unparalleled hospitality in their favorite university towns. Each Graduate hotel – steeped in local history, charm and nostalgia – is thoughtfully designed to reflect the unique character of its local university, offering the perfect setting for gamedays, reunions, graduations, campus visits and more. Since its inception in 2014, the brand has grown to span the United States and the United Kingdom, including locations in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; Palo Alto, California; State College, Pennsylvania; and Oxford and Cambridge, United Kingdom, with new hotels opening soon in Austin and Dallas, Texas; Auburn, Alabama; and Princeton, New Jersey.

“We’re proud to embark on this new chapter for Graduate Hotels with Hilton, the ideal partner to steer the brand’s continued growth,” said Ben Weprin, founder, Graduate Hotels and CEO, AJ Capital. “Both Hilton and Graduate Hotels are committed to delivering exceptional experiences and making a positive impact on communities. Our shared values and close collaboration will ensure a smooth transition while keeping the Graduate Hotels’ unique brand identity intact. With Hilton’s extensive network behind us, guests can anticipate even more exciting opportunities. We’re certain this partnership will propel Graduate Hotels to even greater heights, while AJ’s ongoing ownership of the real estate assets lays a strong foundation for our future success.”

The Graduate brand will be incorporated into Hilton’s fast-growing lifestyle portfolio alongside Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Tempo by Hilton and Motto by Hilton – each of which has been launched in the last 10 years to respond to growing demand from travelers for localized travel experiences. Hilton’s 2024 Trends Report identified that nearly a quarter of global travelers are planning getaways for concerts, sporting events and other one-of-a-kind, local experiences this year, many of which are happening in secondary markets anchored by universities.

Graduate Hotels are expected to be available for booking via Hilton channels later this year and will participate in Hilton Honors, Hilton’s award-winning guest loyalty program for the company’s portfolio of more than 7,500 properties worldwide. Members who book directly with Hilton can access instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, exclusive member discounts, free standard Wi-Fi and the Hilton Honors mobile app.

Hilton continues to offer customers the right stay for every travel occasion through an unmatched portfolio of industry-leading brands plus exclusive partnerships that create more experiences for guests to dream about. The addition of Graduate, as well as a recently announced partnerships with Small Luxury Hotels of the World and AutoCamp, adds to the company’s dramatic growth trajectory and reflects its focus on accelerating offerings for guests in the industry’s fastest-growing markets and segments.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. is AJ Capital’s sole financial advisor on this transaction.

About Graduate Hotels®

Graduate Hotels is a collection of hand-crafted hotels that reside in dynamic university-anchored towns in the U.S. and U.K. Each hotel pays homage to the heritage of its unique town through cultural nods to the local community. Launched in 2014, there are currently more than 35 Graduate Hotels open or in the pipeline across the U.S. and the U.K. Graduate Hotels is owned by Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (“AJ Capital Partners” or “AJ”), a Nashville-based vertically integrated real estate investment manager with a portfolio of timeless businesses and brand platforms, founded by Ben Weprin in 2008. For more information on Graduate Hotels, please visit www.graduatehotels.com.

About Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners

Adventurous Journeys (“AJ”) Capital Partners is a vertically integrated real estate investment manager founded by Ben Weprin in 2008. The firm specializes in creating distinctive, design-forward properties in high-demand yet underserved locations. The multi-disciplined team at AJ brings expertise in placemaking, inspired design, and hospitality to fuel a diverse portfolio, currently valued at $5.3 billion across 100+ properties in 50+ markets. The company focuses on hospitality, mixed-use, and residential sectors. Learn more at www.ajcpt.com.

About Hilton

Hilton is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 22 world-class brands comprising more than 7,500 properties and nearly 1.2 million rooms, in 126 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed over 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, was named the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work and Fortune and has been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for seven consecutive years. Hilton has introduced industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 180 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements related to the expectations regarding the performance of Hilton’s business, future financial results, liquidity and capital resources and other non-historical statements. In some cases, you can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “outlook,” “believes,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “potential,” “continues,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “seeks,” “projects,” “predicts,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” “anticipates” or the negative version of these words or other comparable words. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties including, among others, risks inherent to the hospitality industry; macroeconomic factors beyond Hilton’s control, such as inflation, changes in interest rates, challenges due to labor shortages or disputes and supply chain disruptions; competition for hotel guests and management and franchise contracts; risks related to doing business with third-party hotel owners; performance of Hilton’s information technology systems; growth of reservation channels outside of Hilton’s system; risks of doing business outside of the U.S.; risks associated with conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and other geopolitical events; and Hilton’s indebtedness. Additional factors that could cause Hilton’s results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found under the section entitled “Part I—Item 1A. Risk Factors” of Hilton’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023, which is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and is accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual outcomes or results to differ materially from those indicated in these statements. These factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements that are included in this press release and in Hilton’s filings with the SEC. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as required by law.

Contacts

Kent Landers, Hilton

kent.landers@hilton.com

Kerstin Hjelm, AJ Capital Partners

khjelm@ajcpt.com

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