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Sunstone Names Arabia, Analyst From Green Street, Finance Chief

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc., the owner of 32 properties including the Hilton Times Square, hired John Arabia, an analyst who follows the lodging industry, as chief financial officer.

Arabia has been managing director at Green Street Advisors, a Newport Beach, California-based real estate research company, since 1997. Sunstone also named him executive vice president of corporate strategy, the Aliso Viejo, California-based company said in a statement today. The appointment is effective April 4.

Sunstone wants to buy $1 billion of assets this year to expand its portfolio of upscale business hotels, Kenneth Cruse, Sunstone’s president, said in an interview last month. The REIT is looking to buy high-end hotels of 400 rooms or larger in major cities on the U.S. East and West coasts.

“John will play a primary role in determining and executing Sunstone’s growth and value creation strategies,” Cruse said in the statement today.

Sunstone in December said Art Buser resigned as president and chief executive officer after the company failed to complete acquisitions. It’s seeking to take advantage of declines in property values after a 2009 industry slump that was the biggest since the Great Depression.

A rebound in U.S. business and leisure travel is buoying the lodging industry. Occupancy in the top 25 markets climbed to 64 percent last year from 60 percent in 2009, according to Smith Travel Research Inc. of Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Sunstone over the past two years forfeited to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. eight hotels whose values had dropped below their mortgages. Two additional properties, including the W San Diego, also were handed over to lenders.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nadja Brandt in Los Angeles at nbrandt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net.

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