Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Starwood's CEO Departure: The Real Story? Will Barry Come Back?

Today's Wall Street Journal article on the "resignation" of Starwood Hotels and Resorts CEO Steven Heyer gets curiouser and curiouser. Giving up $35 million because "life is too short"? Must be nice. Given some of the allegations, which Heyer denies, it almost sounds like a TV movie in the making.

At least one analyst thinks the company may be in play. It also makes you wonder whether founder Barry Sternlicht, who recruited Heyer but then left the company in 2005 after a spat with him, get into the game himself. Sternlicht, who runs Starwood Capital, appears to be in a position to take the plunge if he wants. He and his former boss at JMB Realty, Neil Bluhm of Walton Street Capital, LLC, recently were willing to buy a chunk of the Equity Office portfolio as part of the aborted effort by Vornado Realty Trust to acquire EOP.

According to news yesterday, Sternlicht is already moving into restaurants in New York and may, if today's reports from phawker.com are correct, in fact not yet be done if he acquires the almost perfectly-named Starr Restaurant Group. Starr, meet Starwood. Starwood, Starr. I better stop before I become David Letterman at the Oscars.

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