The Hyatt Corp. settled a nonjudicial action yesterday brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which had accused the family that controls the diversified hotel company of carrying out a series of self-serving transactions.
The SEC, in an administrative proceeding, cited numerous examples of conflicts of interest between Hyatt and the descendants of Nicholas J. Pritzker, who founded the Rosemont, Ill., company.
Hyatt operates 55 hotels and motels, as well as hospitals, gambling casinos, two exposition centers and a sports arena. The Pritzkers own 35 percent of the outstanding shares of Hyatt and occupy top executive slots in the company.
The Pritzkers have announced they will resolve the conflicts by acquiring all the equity in the company.
But as part of settlement of the SEC action, the Pritzkers agreed that the plan to make the company private first must be approved by a majority of the nonfamily shareholders.
Hyatt also agreed to give its shareholders "a clear and concise statement" of the various alleged insider dealings by the Pritzkers that have not been disclosed before. Hyatt must file the statement with the SEC within 20 days.
Among the transactions the SEC said were not adequately described to Hyatt shareholders:
"In each of 24... leases created since 1969 involving Pritzker familyowned hotel properties, financial commitments made between Hyatt and the family were negotiated largely by members of the Pritzker family."
The leases provided that the Pritzkers collected minimum rent from Hyatt "irrespective of the success or failure" of the hotel ventures. But the family's capital investment would be threatened only if Hyatt became insolvent. "Accordingly... the risks associated with each venture were, in effect, borne by Hyatt," the SEC said.
During the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 1976, when Hyatt suffered losses of $6.1 million, the Pritzker family received approximately $13.5 million in lease payments for 18 properties then operated by Hyatt.
The terms of a contract between Hyatt and the Prudential Insurance Co. of America to build hotels in New Orleans, Indianapolis and Cambridge, Mass., produced "substantial tax benefits to the Pritzker family, even though the Pritzker family supplied a small amount of the capital involved."
The terms of a complex $30 million loan to Hyatt from the controversial Teamsters Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund.
The loan was secured by Hyatt's ownership interest in Four Queens Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It was used allegedly to buy another hotelcasino in Lake Tahoe, Nev., which was owned by the Teamsters and which had closed down several times because of operating losses.
A Hyatt spokesman was quoted last night as saying "the SEC really didn't allege any wrongdoing." He said the SEC "merely claimed" that certain technical information should have been included in past filings.
"At most it was an inadvertant omission," he said.