The Blackstone Group named hotel industry
veteran Christopher Nassetta CEO of recently acquired Hilton
Hotels, snubbing the man the Hilton board had tapped earlier this
year to take over as CEO.
currently president and CEO of Host Hotels and Resorts, a lodging
real estate investment trust that is one of the largest owners of
luxury and upscale hotels in the world.
He will replace
Stephen Bollenbach, who retired when Blackstone completed its
acquisition of Hilton on Oct. 24.
Host was spun off from Marriott, its former parent, in 1993 when
Bollenbach was Marriott's CFO. He later served as CEO of the
company when it was known as Host Marriott.
and COO, Matthew Hart, who had been selected in May to replace
Bollenbach in January 2008, will step down but remain on the board,
Rick Swig, president of RSBA & Associates in San Francisco,
said he was surprised that Hart was passed over.
"I really like Matt
Hart," said Swig. "But I guess everyone wants to bring in their own
person. Chris is a brilliant man and a phenomenal
But Hilton's gain
is a "dramatic loss" for Host, Swig said.
The Host Hotels
board appointed its CFO, W. Edward Walter, to succeed Nassetta as
president and CEO, effective immediately. Nassetta will remain at
Host until the end of November to help with the
background overseeing the world's largest hotel ownership company,
Chris understands the needs of hotel owners and is uniquely
qualified to lead Hilton," said Jonathan Gray, senior managing
director of Blackstone.
week reiterated its commitment to growing Hilton and said it had no
plans to sell any of the company's brands or major
Blackstone said its strategy for Hilton included
maintaining strong unit growth in the U.S., where it said more than
20% of all hotel rooms currently under construction carry one of
Blackstone said it
also would invest to accelerate the company's international growth,
building on recently formed partnerships and new opportunities
created by the 2006 merger of Hilton Hotels and Hilton
Blackstone said it
intended to incorporate a significant portion of its existing
portfolio of luxury hotels and resorts onto the Hilton
holdings include such upscale properties as the Boulders Resort
& Golden Door Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz.; El Conquistador Resort
& Golden Door Spa in Fajardo, Puerto Rico; and the Boca Raton
Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Fla.
contact reporter Jeri Clausing, send e-mail to [email protected].