Seeking to defeat Hilton Hotels Chairman Barron Hilton's claim to buy a controlling block of the hotel chain's stock, the executor of Conrad Hilton's estate asked court permission today to turn over more than half its 27.4 percent holding to a charitable trust.
The petition by James E. Bates was the first major move in his avowed intent to see that voting control of the big hotel chain goes to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in trust for charities, as Conrad Hilton's will provided. The company founder died at 91 in 1979.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert I. Weil did not rule immediately on the request, pending further proceedings.
Attorneys for Barron Hilton assured Weil in a conference in his chambers today that they will fight Bates' proposed "interim" distribution of 3.6 million of the estate's 6.8 million Hilton Hotels shares to the foundation.
Their client has an option under his father's will to buy any hotel company shares that cannot go to the foundation if they are in excess of a 20 percent limit on business holdings by a private foundation under a 1969 tax law.
However, under a complex legal theory, Barron Hilton has asked the IRS to rule that all 6.8 million shares would constitute an excess holding by the foundation.