(CEO) Marriott International Passing Baton to Sorenson

Even though his surname is not Marriott, Arne Sorenson will succeed J.W. Marriott, Jr. as chief executive officer (CEO) of Marriott International Inc. (MAR) next year. Sorenson will be the third CEO in the company’s history followed by J.W. Bill Marriott (Jr.) who expanded his father’s 85-year old Marriott empire globally. Post transition, Bill Marriott will remain on the board as executive chairman.

Bill Marriott will retire after running the Maryland-based company for six decades. He joined Marriott Corporation in 1956, was elected executive vice president and a board member in January 1964, went on to become the president of the company in November 1964, CEO in 1972, and eventually chairman of the board in 1985.

Sorenson’s association with Marriott dates back to 1996. After being recruited personally by Marriott Jr, Sorenson held an array of leadership positions. Besides being the chief financial officer, he was also the visionary of the hotel chain’s European operations. In 2009, he assumed the role of president and chief operating officer.

In this session of leadership changes, the board has appointed Robert McCarthy, currently the group president, as Marriott International’s chief operations officer. All appointments are effective March 31, 2012.

Since its inception, Marriott International’s operating policy has been regulated by the founding family. In fact, Bill Marriott’s children still hold executive positions with the company. However, considering Sorenson’s age-old alliance with the company, we believe, his style of operation will be in sync with Marriott’s psyche.

Marriott runs JW Marriott, Renaissance, Autograph Collection, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Marriott ExecuStay, Marriott Executive Apartments, The Ritz-Carlton, Bulgari and Edition. Its competitors include Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT) and Hyatt Hotel Corp. (H). Marriott currently retains the Zacks #4 Rank that translates into short-term Sell rating. We are also maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

HYATT HOTELS CP (H): Free Stock Analysis Report

STARWOOD HOTELS (HOT): Free Stock Analysis Report

MARRIOTT INTL-A (MAR): Free Stock Analysis Report

Zacks Investment Research

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