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Marriott Hotels owner Host Hotels & Resorts announced Monday morning the abrupt departure of CEO and President Christopher Nassetta, and named long-time company insider, W. Edward Walter (currently CFO and Executive VP) its new CEO and President, effective immediately. Nassetta will take the helm at the newly private Hilton Hotels, whose purchase by private equity group Blackstone Group LP was completed Wednesday for $47.50 a share. According to Host Chairman of the Board, Richard E. Marriott, new CEO "Ed Walter has been involved in every area of the Company's operations and has been an integral part of each of our major transactions over the last ten years, including our conversion to a REIT in 1998, the restructuring of our balance sheet and, most recently, our $3.5 billion acquisition of hotels from Starwood." Outgoing CEO Nassetta oversaw the company during "12 years of outstanding service during which the size of the Company more than doubled, the stockholder value was significantly enhanced, and the brand diversification of the Company's portfolio was substantially improved." He will remain there through the end of November to help smooth the transition leading up to his departure. Blackstone plans to grow the Hilton luxury brand under Nassetta, with 40,000 new rooms under construction and another 57,000 in the development phase. Nassetta was named 'best chief executive among all REITs' by Institutional Investor in January. Host Hotels is the nation's largest REIT.

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Source: Host Hotels CEO Nassetta Quits, Takes Top Spot at Hilton