Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced a realigned senior management structure reflecting its imminent exit from the gaming business. The Company has eliminated its previous group structure effective immediately and Brenda Barnes, 46, an outside director of Starwood and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Pepsi Cola of North America, will assume management responsibility for Starwood`s operations on an interim basis and will participate in a Board search to fill the currently vacant position of President and Chief Operating Officer of Starwood.
“Starwood is entering a new stage in its development,” said Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The world is changing rapidly. While we own superb physical assets around the world, it is our 30 million customers who represent the critical and unrecognized asset of our company in this internet age. We are determined to build a customer-centric organization, a company that will take advantage of unprecedented advances in technology to improve nearly every facet of its core operations while increasing brand loyalty in an effort to create significant long-term shareholder value,” Mr. Sternlicht said.
Juergen Bartels, 59, previously Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Westin Hotels & Resorts, Inc., now a Starwood property, and currently Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel Group, will resign and will continue to be available to Starwood in a senior advisory role during the transition period. “We want to recognize Juergen Bartels for his many contributions to Starwood`s progress to date,” Mr. Sternlicht said. “Starwood will continue to draw on his extensive hotel industry experience during this transition.”
Ms. Barnes headed Pepsi Cola`s North American business for five years before resigning in January 1998 to spend more time with her family. She currently serves as a director of Sears Roebuck & Company, The New York Times Company, Avon Products, Inc. and Lucas Arts and Lucas Digital.
“Brenda Barnes is an extremely talented executive, and we are delighted that she has agreed to lead the strongest group of hotel operating executives in the industry,” Mr. Sternlicht continued.
The Starwood Board of Directors enthusiastically endorsed Ms. Barnes` appointment. Raymond Troubh, an outside director, said, “This is an important step forward for Starwood. The Board is delighted that Brenda has agreed to play an active operational role in partnership with Barry. Her impressive background and well-recognized abilities position her to provide effective and proactive leadership for Starwood.”
Eric Hippeau, another Starwood director who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ziff Davis and a director of Yahoo, Inc., ZD Net, Geocities, and SOFTBANK, said, “We are confident that the addition of Brenda Barnes to an already strong management team will enable Starwood to build on Barry`s vision and successfully navigate this challenging period in the industry while helping position the company for future growth.”
“I am very much looking forward to working closely with Barry and the great team at Starwood,” Ms. Barnes said. “With the strength of Starwood`s brands and people, I am confident we can attract an executive to help lead this exciting company into the next millennium.”
Reporting to Barnes will be the presidents of Starwood`s five geographic regions, who together have 110 years of hotel industry experience: Bob Cotter (Europe), Ted Darnall (North America), Osvaldo Librizzi (Latin America), Ted Teng (Asia Pacific) and Sami Zoghbi (Africa and the Middle East). Also reporting to Ms. Barnes will be the company`s sales, marketing, information technology and human resource functions.
In addition to Ms. Barnes, reporting to Sternlicht will be the company`s strategic planning, legal, finance, development, and e-commerce functions. Starwood, through its subsidiaries, owns, manages and franchises hotels under its St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points and W brands. Starwood is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 700 hotels in 76 countries and 130,000 employees at its owned and managed properties.