Host Hotels & Resorts has announced that Christopher J. Nassetta has tendered
his resignation as President and Chief Executive Officer of Host, to become President and Chief Executive Officer of Hilton
Hotels Corporation.Mr. Nassetta will remain at the Company until the end
of November to assist in the transition of duties to the new chief
executive officer. The Board of Directors, while expressing its regret at
Chris Nassetta’s decision, thanks him for 12 years of outstanding service
during which the size of the Company more than doubled, the stockholder
value was significantly enhanced, and the brand diversification of the
Company’s portfolio was substantially improved.
The Board of Directors has appointed W. Edward Walter as President and
Chief Executive Officer effective today. Mr. Walter is currently Executive
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, a position he has held since
2003. Since he joined the Company in 1996, he has served in various senior
management positions, including Chief Operating Officer.
Richard E. Marriott, Chairman of the Board said, “Ed Walter has been
involved in every area of the Company’s operations and has been an integral
part of each of our major transactions over the last ten years, including
our conversion to a REIT in 1998, the restructuring of our balance sheet
and, most recently, our $3.5 billion acquisition of hotels from Starwood.
The Board is extremely pleased that Ed Walter will assume this
responsibility and knows that he will be successful in implementing the
Company’s Best In Class strategy as our new CEO.”
The Blackstone Group’s real estate and corporate private equity funds completed the acquisition of Hilton on October 24, 2007. Blackstone views Hilton as an important strategic investment and intends to invest in its properties and brands to enhance the Company’s growth. As stated at the time of the initial announcement in July, Blackstone has no intention of selling any brands or major assets as a result of the transaction.
Jonathan Gray, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone said, “Our goal with Hilton is to build the premier global hospitality company. We are confident that Chris will be a superb addition to the already strong Hilton team. Given his background overseeing the world’s largest hotel ownership company, Chris understands the needs of hotel owners and is uniquely qualified to lead Hilton. I’ve known Chris personally for 15 years and have worked successfully side-by-side with him in the past. He’s a man of the absolute highest integrity, who cares deeply about people. He has the energy, enthusiasm and experience to lead Hilton, and it’s with great pleasure that we welcome him to the team.”
Blackstone’s strategy includes maintaining strong unit growth in the U.S., where more than 20% of all hotel rooms currently under construction carry a Hilton brand. Blackstone will also invest to accelerate the company’s international growth, building on recent agreements to expand the Hilton family of brands outside of the U.S. through a series of strategic partnerships. It was only last year that Hilton merged with Hilton International, a transaction which created a new set of global opportunities for the company. Additionally, Blackstone intends to incorporate a significant portion of its existing portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts onto the Hilton platform, adding to the luxury offerings available to Hilton customers. Blackstone’s holdings include such upscale properties as The Boulders Resort and Spa (Arizona), The El Conquistador Resort (Puerto Rico), and The Boca Raton Resort and Club (Florida).
Chris Nassetta commented, “I am excited to join this great company and am looking forward to working with Hilton’s franchisees, owners and team members to grow this already impressive franchise. Hilton has a powerful collection of brands and we now have the opportunity to build on the strong foundation that already exists to drive the company’s growth, particularly overseas, to create the pre-eminent lodging company in the world. I also look forward to working with Blackstone, who I know from experience will be a terrific strategic partner for Hilton going forward.”
As President and CEO of Hilton, Mr. Nassetta will oversee Hilton’s extensive line of quality brands, including: Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Homewood Suites by Hilton, and The Waldorf=Astoria Collection. Mr. Nassetta intends to work closely with the existing management team, including Thomas Keltner, Chief Executive Officer - Americas and Global Brands, and Ian Carter, Chief Executive Officer - Hilton International. As previously announced, Stephen F. Bollenbach retired from the company last week upon the completion of the transaction. Additionally, Matthew J. Hart will step down as president and chief operating officer but will serve as a member of Hilton’s Board of Directors.