LOS ANGELES, CA-Kenneth J. Kay has assumed the post of chief financial officer at CB Richard Ellis, filling the post vacated by former CFO Jim Leonetti, who left the real estate services firm July 19.

Kay was recruited to CB Richard Ellis from Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co., where he was a vice president and CFO. Immediately before joining Dole, Kay had been CFO at Universal Studios, one of a number of top financial posts he has held in a 22-year career as a corporate financal officer.CB Richard Ellis offered no explanation regarding the departure of Leonetti, other than to say he left “to pursue other interests.”

Kay, who will report to CEO Ray Wirta, has never been the CFO of a real estate services firm, but he tells GlobeSt.com he believes his experience within a number of diverse companies will stand him in good stead as he learns the real estate ropes.

“I think that a lot of the skill set that you develop within a company as a CFO is transportable to other companies,” he says. “Of course there is a learning curve in order to get up to speed in each industry, but to the extent that someone can be a quick study, he can apply many of the same principles from one company to the next.”

Kay’s resume includes ample experience with large companies and industry leaders, including Universal and Dole, which is a $4.5 billion (revenues) company. His experience includes posts as CFO of Costa Mesa-based toy manufacturer Playmates, Inc. and as an accountant with Price Waterhouse.

Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, formerly a publicly held company, went private a year ago in an $800 million merger with BLUM CB Corp., which is controlled by BLUM Capital Partners. The buying group included key members of CB Richard Ellis management.

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