• Orient Express loses a third

If the loss of one senior executive can be considered a misfortune, and the loss of two carelessness, Orient Express Hotels would surely have even Oscar Wilde struggling for words with its admission last week that it is to shed its CFO Paul White.

It is the third senior executive to leave the group in six months, following the announced departures of CEO Simon Sherwood and the stepping-down from his role as chairman of his dad and company founder Jim Sherwood.

New York listed Orient Express is considered to be up for sale despite the Sherwoods still having effective control of the company.

A bid is expected to come somewhere north of $63 per share, giving an enterprise value on the company of more than £3bn.

Any deal is unlikely to be completed prior to the hiring of a new CEO, however, as the search is expected to conclude within a month. White has agreed in the meantime to remain in post for the next six months. Simon Sherwood is due to leave in August.

Meanwhile Hilton has handled its succession issues somewhat better. As widely expected, current COO Matt Hart is stepping up to become CEO at the start of 2008, replacing Steve Bollenbach.

Unusually, given the frantic pace of corporate life, the 54-year old Hart will be only the fourth CEO in Hilton’s 90-year history. Prior to Bollenbach was the legendary Conrad Hilton and subsequently Barron Hilton.

Hart joined Hilton as CFO in 1996 from Walt Disney and previously was with Marriott.

A much bigger mess of succession is currently being made by Carlson Companies, one of the world’s largest private businesses and a hospitality giant with a $5bn annual turnover.

The company is currently embroiled in a legal tussle with Curtis Nelson, the grandson of the founder.

In the meantime it is consolidating its hold on its master franchise holder in the EMEA region by upping its stake in Rezidor from 35% to 41.7%.

The move was made by buying out the remaining shareholding of airline SAS, the owner of Rezidor prior to its float in November of last year. The cost of the 6.7% stake was SEK584m (US$85m).

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