STARWOOD HIRES STEVE HEYER

Former Coke Exec to Be Hotels CEO

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts this morning officially announced that former Coca-Cola Co. executive Steven J. Heyer will become its new CEO on Oct. 1.
Steve Heyer will now oversee a global empire of hotels and resorts.
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The statement confirmed AdAge.com's Aug. 13 report that Mr. Heyer was in the final stages of working out a new employement deal with the global hotel company. His last day at Coca-Cola was Sept. 1.

Suceeds founder
He succeeds company founder Barry S. Sternlicht, who will becomes executive chairman, according to a company statement.

Mr. Heyer, formerly president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola, left the beverage giant after being passed over for the CEO position. During his time at Coke, Mr. Heyer established himself as a leading authority in the new methods of marketing that combine traditional advertising and entertainment content.

Moving into the role of executive chairman and chief design officer, Mr. Sternlicht will trim his daily oversight of Starwood and focus on long-term strategies, capital investment, real estate and design matters.

Several candidates
Mr. Heyer was chosen over several candidates, said Daniel W. Yih, a Starwood board member who was co-chair with Mr. Sternlicht of the CEO search committee.

"Steve embodies all that we were searching for in a new CEO," Mr. Sternlicht said in a statement, calling Mr. Heyer a "seasoned operator with vast corporate experience on a global scale across multiple consumer businesses. He is a marketer who has championed some of the world's most valuable and global brands. He is an innovator who conceived, crafted and cultivated countless new products and partnerships over his career."

Mr. Sternlict said Mr. Heyer would help achieve his vision for the company, "to build a culture maniacally focused on the customer and a revenue/profitability driven enterprise."

Heyer statement
Mr. Heyer appears well-matched for his new employer. "Starwood has clearly positioned itself as the innovator in the hotel industry and has made fantastic strides to distinguish its brands and speak to its customers in a unique and meaningful way," Mr. Heyer said in the statement.

"The company is young, dynamic, innovative, entrepreneurial and has wonderful brands, asset and people. I look forward to building upon the momentum that Barry and his team have built, and collaborating with them to take the company to a new level."

Coke shares down 25%
Since E. Neville Isdell became CEO of the company, Coke shares have fallen 25%. Last week, the company issued a profit warning and appeared to lay most of the blame on Mr. Heyer and former Chairman-CEO Doug Daft.

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