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WHITE PLAINS-Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. named Steven J. Heyer as its new chief executive officer. He will succeed company founder Barry S. Sternlicht effective Oct. 1. Heyer is currently president and chief operating officer of the Coca-Cola Co.

Sternlicht will assume the post of executive chairman and in his new position will “reduce his day-to-day role and work with Steve and the team to focus on long-term strategy and provide guidance on capital investment and real estate matters,” company officials state. The executive will also take on the role of chief design officer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Sternlicht founded the hotel company in 1995, which has now grown into an operation that owns more than 750 hotel and resort properties in more than 80 countries. He is also the founder, president and chief executive officer of Starwood Capital Group LLC of Greenwich.

Heyer joined Coca-Cola in March 2001 where he spent some time as president and chief operating officer of Coca-Cola Ventures prior to his appointment as president and chief operating officer of the parent company in December 2002. He previously served as president and chief operating officer of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and was a member of AOL Time Warner’s operating committee. His background also includes a stint as president and chief operating officer of Young & Rubicam Advertising Worldwide as well as a 15-year tour with the worldwide marketing firm Booz Allen & Hamilton. At that firm he rose to become senior vice president and managing partner.

“The company is young, dynamic, innovative, entrepreneurial and has wonderful brands, assets and people,” says Heyer. “I look forward to building upon the momentum that Barry and his team have built, and collaborating with them to take the company to a new level.”

Commenting on the appointment of his successor, Sternlicht says, “Steve embodies all that we were searching for in a new CEO. My vision for Starwood was to build a culture maniacally focused on the customer and a revenue/profitability driven enterprise. Steve will help us achieve these goals.”

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