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Marriott’s Arne Sorenson to Replace J.W. Marriott Jr. as CEO

Marriott International Inc., the largest publicly traded U.S. hotel chain, said Arne Sorenson will replace J.W. Marriott Jr. as chief executive officer.

Marriott will become executive chairman and chairman of the board, and Robert McCarthy will be chief operating officer, the company said today in a statement. The changes are effective March 31. Sorenson, currently president and chief operating officer, joined Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott in 1996. He’ll be the third CEO in the company’s history and will continue as president.

The hotelier announced organizational changes this year, including the spinoff of its timeshare business, which had been hurt by a slump in demand as economic growth slowed. The company said in February that it would separate the unit later this year to concentrate on operating properties, including the Ritz-Carlton brand.

“As we approach the 85th birthday of our company in 2012 and I proudly celebrate my 60th year of service, I decided to recommend to the board that Arne Sorenson take over the CEO responsibilities,” J.W. Marriott Jr., 79, said in the statement.

“My energies will also be directed at continuing to reinforce the timeless core values that have been the bedrock of our success and to being a company ambassador as we build opportunity around the world,” he said. “To achieve that growth, the right leadership is critical. That’s why I am enormously pleased that Arne will become CEO.”

At its hotel operations, Marriott is breaking into the boutique segment by expanding its Edition brand. The company, which is joining Ian Schrager in the effort, agreed in October to buy the Clock Tower office building near Madison Square Park in Manhattan for an Edition hotel.

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