Starwood Goes Dutch

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts seems to have found the right man to replace the departed and forgotten Steve Heyer. Judging from his c.v., Dutch native Frits van Paasschen is the perfect fit as CEO of the hotel company that really fancies itself a branding company.

As Chairman Bruce Duncan enthused to me in a conversation this morning about Frits, the new chief has a combination of skills and work experience Starwood needs. From his previous executive stints at Coors and Nike, van Paasschen brings superb marketing skills and a wealth of international experience. While president and CEO of Coors Brewing, he increased volumes, sales, profits and market share. As head of Nike's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, he increased revenues from $2.5 billion to $4 billion and doubled profits over a four-year period.

And as a not-so-indirect slap at former CEO Steve Heyer, who never relocated to Starwood's White Plains, NY headquarters and had a reputation for aloofness, Duncan pointed out that van Paasschen "will be based here and he'll be walking the halls. He's a very approachable guy."

Of course, the real test will be whether Frits can nurture and advance Starwood's vaunted reputation for innovation, marketing smarts and hipness.

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