NEW YORK, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced today that Richard D. Nanula, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of Walt Disney Co., has been appointed president and chief executive officer and elected to the board of directors of Starwood, the world's largest hotel and gaming company. Nanula, 37, joined Disney in 1986 in strategic planning, was named CFO in 1991, and after expanding his career experience as president of Disney Stores, was promoted to senior executive vice president and returned to the CFO position in 1996 to help integrate the $19 billion acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC. "Starwood has become a company with $10 billion in revenues and has set the global standard in quality lodging and gaming," said Barry S. Sternlicht, chairman of Starwood and chairman and CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Trust. "We have established an extraordinary base on which to achieve our worldwide objectives, but to accomplish that goal we need a world class executive to help organize, integrate and manage our global operations. Richard Nanula is one of the most able and respected senior executives in Corporate America today. Working in partnership with him, I am confident that Starwood will realize its full operational potential and take its place as one of the world's best-managed corporations. We are delighted that Richard has accepted our offer." Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., owner of the Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, Ciga, Four Points and Caesars brands, has more than 650 hotels and resorts and 14 casinos in more than 70 countries. "Our search firm, Spencer Stuart, and its team, led by Tom Neff and Jim Citrin, identified more than 20 senior executives who were highly qualified to be CEO of Starwood," Sternlicht said. "Richard Nanula represented the best combination of skills, relevant experience and chemistry for the role and was the stand-out candidate. Disney is one of the world's largest and most extraordinary companies, compounding growth in earnings while nurturing a stable of dominant brands. Starwood is the world's largest hotel company and shares the same corporate objectives, double digit growth, while investing in and harvesting its global brands. Richard played a vital role at Disney, where he was the youngest CFO in Fortune 500 history. In addition to his achievements in the financial area, including the successful revitalization of Disneyland Paris, he was a key member of the core management group that oversaw the strategic planning and operations of the $70 billion capitalization company. The operational discipline and managerial skills honed in his Disney career will serve our expanding company extremely well." Tom Neff, chairman of Spencer Stuart US, said: "Nanula has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the most talented and sought-after executives in the world, and he has achieved this status in only a 12-year period. Barry Sternlicht has created a company that is already a huge force in its industry. Richard's organizational and managerial skills will complete the equation." Richard Nanula said: "I joined Disney at a critical period in its history and was fortunate to have had an opportunity to be deeply involved in the company's successful growth and international expansion, working closely with Michael Eisner and an excellent senior management team." "I've enjoyed every minute of my fantastic twelve years at Disney with Michael. It was an extremely difficult decision to leave him, a great future and all of my friends at Disney. But the opportunity at Starwood, with its outstanding portfolio of globally-renowned brands, was irresistible, as was the chance to work in partnership with Barry Sternlicht, one of this country's most talented entrepreneurs, to help maximize the potential of this great, young company." Bruce Duncan, a member of the Starwood board of directors and CEO of Cadillac Fairview, the Canadian real estate operating company, said: "Richard Nanula is a natural for Starwood. We've grown quite large, rather fast and need a seasoned executive to sharpen the focus and fine-tune the organization, bring out the best in all of our operations, expand our quality brands on a worldwide basis, and produce excellent returns for our stakeholders. The opportunity is immense, and our entire board of directors is confident that Richard is the right executive for the job." A graduate of Harvard Business School, where he was a colleague of Sternlicht's, Nanula has maintained a personal and professional relationship with the Starwood chairman for many years, sometimes as an ally and at other times on opposite sides of the negotiating table. Sternlicht said his long- time personal association with Nanula will provide a great degree of comfort. "I know him. I like him. I deeply respect his abilities. And, most of all, I trust him," Sternlicht said. "That's a combination that is universally desired by corporations, but rarely seen." Born May 9, 1960, in Los Angeles, Nanula holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), in Economics, and an MBA degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Before joining Disney, he received his CPA from Deloitte Haskins & Sells. Nanula is a member of the board of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and is on the board of trustees of The UCSB Foundation. He lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his wife and their two children, but will be relocating his home to the New York area. Shares of Starwood Hotels & Resorts World, Inc. are paired and traded together with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the largest real estate investment trust in the United States, on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HOT).
SOURCE Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.