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Stephen Bollenbach dies at 74; former executive at Hilton, Disney and Trump Organization

Stephen Bollenbach dies at 74; former executive at Hilton, Disney and Trump Organization
Stephen F. Bollenbach, former CEO of Hilton Hotels, in 1997. (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Stephen F. Bollenbach, a financial whiz who helped engineer Hilton Hotels Corp.’s international expansion and negotiated a deal to help Donald Trump avoid filing for personal bankruptcy in the 1990s, has died. He was 74.

Bollenbach, a Los Angeles native, died Oct. 8 after a long illness, widow Kimberly Bollenbach said.

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A graduate of UCLA and Cal State Northridge, Bollenbach held executive positions at Hilton, Disney, Caesars Entertainment and the Trump Organization, earning a reputation as a creative finance deal maker.

He was so respected that shares of Hilton Hotels surged 13% in early 1996 when it was announced that he had been hired as president and chief executive of the hotel giant. Bollenbach helped reunite Hilton in 2005 with its international properties that were split off in 1964.

Kimberly Bollenbach said her husband considered his work with Hilton as his biggest business achievement. "He was most proud about taking the brand globally," she said.

Before taking the position at Hilton, Bollenbach was chief financial officer at Walt Disney Co., where he helped negotiate the 1995 acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC Inc. At the time, the $19-billion deal was considered one of the largest corporate takeovers, creating a media powerhouse that now includes theme parks, movies and television broadcasting.

Bollenbach even tested his financial skills at the Trump Organization, where he held the post of chief financial officer from 1990 to 1992. Trump, now the Republican nominee for president, originally tapped Bollenbach to serve as liason to banks the New York developer owed some $3.3 billion.

The executive was an avid traveler who owned an apartment in Paris and loved playing golf and sharing dinner with friends, his widow said.

He is also survived by two sons and two grandchildren.

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

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