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Starwood Hotels


continues to restructure its upper management, naming Vasant Prabhu its new chief financial officer on Monday. The news comes a month after the company said CEO Barry Sternlicht would be stepping down.

Prabhu, who was also given the title of executive vice president, will replace current CFO Ron Brown, who has been the company's CFO since 1995 and will become the company's new vice president of strategy. Last month, Starwood gave Chief Operating Officer Robert Cotter the

additional role of president, quelling fears that Sternlicht's departure as CEO and the resulting CEO search would lead to an exodus of top executives.

Vasant is not a Starwood insider, however, having spent the last three years as the CFO of supermarket chain



. Prior to Safeway, Vasant was president of the information and media group at


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for two years and was the CFO of


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international division for a year before that.

"I am extremely pleased to announce Vasant's appointment as EVP and CFO," said Sternlicht in a press release. "Vasant is an accomplished financial strategist, and brings to Starwood more than 20 years of experience from some of today's most respected companies."

In a statement reacting to the news, Steve Burd, Safeway's chairman and CEO, said Vasant would stay with the company through the end of 2003 to help find a replacement. "We are grateful for Vasant's contributions to Safeway over the last three years. He provided strong leadership over our finance and information technology organizations, and was particularly helpful in the successful establishment of our Internet grocery business,," said Burd.

With Sternlicht

remaining chairman of Starwood, the last major piece of the puzzle is for Starwood to name a new CEO. Whoever takes the helm at Starwood will have some big shoes to fill, replacing the man who founded the hotel chain and took its market cap from $10 million to $11 billion over the last eight years.

In reaction to the news, Starwood was up 9 cents, or 0.3%, to $34.56, early in Monday's session. Safeway was down 74 cents, or 3.6%, to $20.01.