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Starwood Hotels Combines Americas Units, Makes Executive Changes

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April 12 (Bloomberg) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of the luxury St. Regis and W brands, announced management changes and said it is combining its operations in North America and Latin America.

Sergio Rivera, currently president and chief executive officer of the company’s vacation ownership segment, and Osvaldo Librizzi, president of Starwood Latin America, will become co-presidents of Starwood Americas, the Stamford, Connecticut-based hotelier said today in a statement. Starwood also will incorporate its vacation ownership unit into the Americas division.

In other changes, Stephen Ho, currently senior vice president of acquisitions and development for Starwood China, will become president of the Asia Pacific division. Qian Jin, head of Starwood’s China operations, will be president of Greater China. The appointments take effect July 1.

Starwood, which opened China’s first international-branded hotel 26 years ago, moved its headquarters to Shanghai for a month last year to learn more about its second-largest market. The company has said China may eventually pass the U.S. in hotel demand.

“The promotions are reflective of where their growth opportunities are,” said Patrick Scholes, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets Corp. “South America is their fastest-growing region but also their smallest, and they’ve obviously been very focused on China and Asia Pacific.”

The job changes coincide with the departures of Matt Avril, president of the hotel group; Denise Coll, president of Starwood North America; and Miguel Ko, chairman and president of the company’s Asia Pacific region. The three executives will stay through the end of the year to help with the transition, the company said.

Frits Van Paasschen, Starwood’s president and chief executive officer, said the “planned retirements” create an “opportunity to refine our structure to match a changing marketplace.”

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Taub at dtaub@bloomberg.net