CEO, CMO Out at Starwood

NEW YORK Citing a loss of confidence in Steve Heyer’s management style, Starwood Hotels & Resorts said it has accepted his resignation as CEO, effective immediately.

Javier Benito, the client’s CMO, has also resigned, the company has confirmed, but said his departure was not related to Heyer’s exit.

Heyer, 54, joined the White Plains, N.Y., company in 2004 from Coca-Cola, where he had been the global head of strategic initiatives.

Starwood chairman Bruce Duncan is serving as interim CEO until the board of directors, which has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to lead the effort, names a permanent replacement.

Matt Ouimet, president of the company’s hotel group, will serve as acting CMO.

In a statement, Stephen Quazzo, chairman of the governance and nominating committee of Starwood’s board, said, “While the board appreciates the good work Steve Heyer has done to position Starwood for the future, issues with regard to his management style have led us to lose confidence in his leadership. Starwood today is performing well and has a strong market position, a winning strategy and significant growth potential.”

“We are currently in the middle of a dynamic growth period, including expanding our footprint substantially around the globe,” Duncan said in a statement, adding that he will be based in White Plains and “[I] look forward to leading Starwood as we execute its successful continuing transformation from a cyclical real estate business into a leading global hotel operator and lifestyle company.”

Starwood is scheduled to report its first-quarter 2007 financial results on
April 26, 2007.

Interpublic Group’s Deutsch in New York handles advertising for the company’s Sheraton and Westin brands. Starwood uses various agencies for its other hotels, which include the St. Regis, Four Points by Sheraton and W properties.

Starwood spent $25 million in U.S. media on the Sheraton brand in 2006 and $40 million on Westin, per TNS Media Intelligence.

This story updates an earlier item with the news that Benito has resigned.