Sternlicht Leaving Starwood - TheStreet

Sternlicht Leaving Starwood

The hotel REIT also posts better-than-expected earnings.
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Real estate tycoon Barry Sternlicht is stepping down from the company he built to spend more time with his family.

Meanwhile, the company, hotel REIT

Starwood Hotels


, reported a better-than-expected third-quarter profit.

Sternlicht became CEO in 1995 and is credited with building Starwood into the country's largest hotel group through a series a acquisitions, including Westin Hotels at ITT Sheraton. The media-savvy Sternlicht was sometimes knocked as a better acquirer than operator, but the company reportedly said he was under no pressure to resign.

The announcement comes as White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood and other hotel companies try to weather a slump in business travel. Starwood's third-quarter net income fell to $48 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with $52 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago, as the company tried to attract more vacationers to offset the business trade.

Net income in the quarter more than beat Thomson First Call's estimate of 20 cents a share, with Starwood shares gaining $1.45, or 4%, to $34.75 in premarket trading.

When a replacement is found, Sternlicht will become executive chairman and focus on long-term strategy, brand-building and other strategic areas.