Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), the world`s second largest hotel franchisor, announced today the appointment of hotel industry veteran Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr. as president and chief executive officer. Ledsinger will also serve on the company`s board of directors. His appointment will be effective at the end of August.
Ledsinger, 48, who has nearly 20 years` experience in hotel corporate and financial management, joins Choice from St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE) where he served as president and chief operating officer. St. Joe is Florida`s largest private landowner and develops master-planned communities, commercial and industrial facilities, resorts and location-based entertainment. Prior to St. Joe, Ledsinger served as senior vice president and chief financial officer of Harrah`s Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: HET) after its spin-off of Promus Hotel Corporation (NYSE: PRH) in 1995 and in the same role at The Promus Companies Incorporated from 1990.
“We are pleased to welcome Chuck as the new leader of Choice Hotels,” said Stewart Bainum, Jr., chairman of Choice`s board of directors and acting chief executive officer as well as one of the company`s largest shareholders: “As an industry veteran with an excellent reputation and extensive experience in strategic planning, deal structuring, and finance, Chuck brings a number of critical strengths that will enable Choice to continue to capitalize on industry trends and grow profitably—both domestically and internationally.”
Said Ledsinger: “I am delighted to be returning to the hotel industry where I have spent most of my career. Leading the world`s second largest franchisor—particularly one with Choice`s stable of brands, innovative technology and expanding overseas presence - is an exciting and challenging opportunity. Based on Choice`s strong record of success, I am confident we have the platform to continue achieving outstanding profitability and earnings growth.”
Prior to joining St. Joe in May 1997, Ledsinger spent approximately 20 years at The Promus Companies Incorporated and its predecessor companies. He was named senior vice president and chief financial officer of Promus in 1990 after Promus` sale of Holiday Inns to Bass, plc. He was then named senior vice president and chief financial officer of Harrah`s Entertainment in 1995 after managing the successful separation of Harrah`s and Promus in a spin-off to create two publicly traded companies. From 1988 to 1990, Ledsinger served as treasurer of Promus.
Joining Holiday Inns in 1978, Ledsinger held a number of financial management positions, including vice president, project finance of Holiday Inns from 1986 to 1988, and vice president, finance and administration of Embassy Suites Hotel division from 1983 to 1986. As the first CFO for Embassy Suites, Ledsinger established and organized the brand`s first successful systems for accounting and finance.
Ledsinger currently serves on the board of directors of FelCor Suite Hotels, Inc., Friendly Ice Cream Corporation, Perkins Management Company, Inc., and TBC Corporation. He holds a bachelor`s degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Memphis State University. Ledsinger is a member and past chairman of The Real Estate Finance Advisory Counsel of the American Hotel and Motel Association. He and his wife, Anita, and two teenage daughters, will be relocating shortly from Jacksonville to the Washington, D.C. area.
Separately, the Company also announced the retirement of Robert C. Hazard, Jr., 62, from the company`s board of directors.
Bainum, Jr. said: “Bob has resigned from the Choice board after long and distinguished service to devote more time to other business interests. He has decided to take on a more active role in managing Creative Hotel Associates, LLC, a privately held real estate company in which he owns a significant interest. We appreciate the many contributions he has made to this company and wish him the very best.”