The global chief executive of Hilton has written to the group's hotel owners to reassure them that the company is taking the corporate espionage charge levelled at it by rival Starwood "very seriously".
Christopher Nassetta's letter followed a report which revealed that a federal grand jury has been convened to investigate whether Hilton committed corporate espionage when planning the launch of its boutique Denizen brand.
Earlier this year, Starwood initiated legal action against Hilton accusing it of stealing tens of thousands of pages of documents that detailed Starwood's strategy for its successful, 10-year-old W chain.
In the letter, obtained by the USA Today newspaper, Nassetta told the owners he couldn't share many details because the topic is the subject of a civil suit. However, he said he wanted to assure them "that these matters are being dealt with at the highest levels" of Hilton and that "Hilton is committed to resolving this situation with the highest levels of integrity".
Months before Starwood filed suit, Hilton had voluntarily returned to its rival "the documents that we discovered which were proprietary to that company", according to Nassetta's letter.
"In April, we took swift and decisive action to place the Denizen brand on hold and suspend the entire luxury and lifestyle team," he wrote. "Since April, we have been fully cooperating with the United States Attorneys' Office and will continue to do so."
The letter concluded: "We recognise that we are the stewards of an iconic company and must always be conscious of the responsibility that comes with continuing a brand legacy. We take these matters very seriously and are working tirelessly to resolve them."
By Daniel Thomas
E-mail your comments to Caterer News here.
If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk
Looking for a new job? Find your next hotel job here with Caterersearch.com jobs