WESTIN EYES AMERICAS WITH NEW OWNER

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Westin Hotels & Resorts will refocus on the Western Hemisphere for growth under new owner Bernardo Dominguez.

Mr. Dominguez, who last week announced a $708 million deal to buy the 52 U.S. and Mexican hotels from Aoki Corp., is expected to push further expansion of Westin into Mexico and Central and South America. Westin currently has six Mexican properties and represents two Central American hotels.

Mr. Dominguez "decided it is a great brand name and has a great reputation," said Barbara Heffernan, VP at Salomon Bros., the investment banking house that represented him. In the deal, Aoki retains the chain's Asian and Canadian properties.

As executive chairman of DSC, Mr. Dominguez heads a company that includes real estate, construction and travel interests. Those travel interests include a five-hotel Mexican chain, Qualton Hotels, and one of Mexico's largest travel agencies and tour operators, Avisa.

Westin, which will be kept as a separate company, would give Avisa immediate access to a ready supply of U.S. hotel rooms.

Cole & Weber, Seattle, handles Westin's $4 million account, primarily U.S. media.

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