Shares of Hilton Hotels Corp. (NYSE: HLT) skyrocketed in Thursday trading after the hotel firm said late Tuesday to be acquired by private equity giant Blackstone Group for $26 billion, including debt.

The U.S. hotel chain gained $9.42, or 26.1 percent, to reach $45.48 on the New York Stock Exchange in morning trading. Trading was suspended on Wednesday due to the Fourth of July holiday.

Hilton's board approved the takeover bid late Tuesday, and expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2007 subject to shareholder approval.

Blackstone will pay $47.50 for each share, Hilton said in a statement, representing 32 percent more than its closing price on June 3rd, before the announcement was made.

The deal also includes over 7 billion in debt.

This transaction is about building the premier global hospitality business, said Jonathan Gray, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone. We are committed to investing in the company and working with Hilton's outstanding owners and franchisees to continue to grow and enhance the business.

Blackstone's purchase is its first major acquisition since it went public on June 22.

Financing for purchase is being provided by Bear Stearns, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, entities that have also served as financial advisers to Blackstone.

Hilton, second in the U.S. to Marriott International Inc., has more than 2,800 locations.