IRVING, TX-FelCor Lodging Trust Inc. has the scouts out to backfill a CFO’s position vacated just three days ago by Richard J. O’Brien, who’s spent the past three years with a dual nameplate that included executive vice president.

O’Brien pulled out Friday, six days before the REIT’s first quarter earnings call. He and his family are headed back to Connecticut, Thomas J. Corcoran Jr., FelCor president and CEO, tells “He did a very good job for the company,” he adds, explaining he wasn’t overly surprised because O’Brien had been “hinting” for some time that he was considering a return to the Northeast. O’Brien could not be reached for comment.

Corcoran says the headhunting search started yesterday by hiring FPL Advisory Group’s new Dallas team to scout the terrain and come back with a list of potential candidates. He expects the CFO position will be filled within 60 days. But, of course, that means finding the right fit…and preferably one who can cook, a requirement for the Irving, TX-based REIT’s culture. If the hire can’t cook, Corcoran says he will do what he’s done in the past: give lessons.

“There is a culture here,” Corcoran says of a staff with a reputation for long-term stays. “That is something that they’ve got to be comfortable in.”

O’Brien was at the helm of the REIT’s disposition, now in its second year. In a press release, Corcoran noted O’Brien’s contributions, saying he “provided many positive contributions to the company, including substantial improvements to financial measurements, management of external communications and excellent liquidity for the company’s growth.”

O’Brien joined FelCor in June 2001 shortly after it announced a proposed $2.7-billion buyout of Washington, DC-based MeriStar Hospitality Corp., a deal that subsequently fell apart. Prior to FelCor, O’Brien was managing director of GE Capital Real Estate and CFO for its Americas business unit. O’Brien’s background includes management stints with JPMorgan Inc. and KPMG Peat Marwick.

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