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WHITE PLAINS-In order to focus on his private company, Starwood Capital, Barry S. Sternlicht, founder of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., has resigned from the role of executive chairman of the company as well as from its board of directors. Last year he retired as CEO and was succeeded by Stephen J. Hyer. Sternlicht will now assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus.

Sternlicht says he fulfilled his commitment to stay through a transition period and now wants to focus his time on the Greenwich, CT-based real estate investment and private equity firm, which has more than $5 billion under management. Lizanne Galbreath has been elected as a director to fill the vacancy created by Sternlicht’s resignation, and current director Bruce W. Duncan has been elected chairman of the board.

“Eighteen months ago, I made the decision to reduce my involvement in the company to spend more time with my family and focus on my other business interests,” Sternlicht says in a statement. “My commitment to lead the search process for a new CEO and stay through the transition period has now been fulfilled and it is now time for me to follow through with my other commitments to my family and other business.”

During Sternlicht’s tenure as CEO, which began in the spring of 1995 with the acquisition of Hotel Investors Trust, Starwood grew from an equity market capitalization of less than $10 million into a hotel giant with an enterprise value exceeding $15 billion.

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