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Governance

Hilton agrees to disclose political spending; New York pension fund withdraws resolution

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, said Wednesday that Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. agreed to disclose its political spending, thus allowing the pension fund to withdraw a shareholder resolution.

"Investors have the right to know if companies are using corporate funds to influence the political process and whether they're doing so to promote the companies' best interests," Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release.

"Lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to political spending may put companies' reputations and profits at risk and can threaten long-term shareholder value," he added.

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, said Hilton responded in a Feb. 8 letter agreeing to the terms outlined in a Nov. 1 shareholder proposal filed by the Albany-based $197.3 billion pension fund.

Contingent upon the pension fund's withdrawing its proposal, Hilton agreed to take several actions within 12 months of its 2019 annual meeting, including posting on its website policies and procedures for using corporate funds for political contributions, according to a company letter sent to the comptroller's office and made public by the office.

Hilton also agreed to post on its website "direct and indirect monetary and non-monetary contributions" to multiple recipients, including state and local candidates, political parties, ballot measures and trade associations," said the Hilton letter agreeing to the pension fund's request.