Hail to the chief

Buyout giant Blackstone has hired Host Hotels head to lead its newly acquired Hilton Hotels luxury chain.

A week after completing its $20 billion (€13.5 billion) acquisition of Hilton Hotels, The Blackstone Group hired a new president and chief executive for its high-end hospitality brand.

Christopher Nassetta, the former president and chief executive of Host Hotels and Resorts, is tasked with overseeing the growth of Blackstone's latest lodging investment in the US and abroad. Having been with Host Hotels—the largest owner of luxury hotels in the world—for the past seven years, Nassetta brings to his new position extensive experience in the lodging industry.

“Given his background overseeing the world's largest hotel ownership company, Chris understands the needs of hotel owners and is uniquely qualified to lead Hilton,” Jonathan Gray, senior managing director of Blackstone, said in a statement on the appointment.

Gray added that he has worked together with Nassetta in the past.

In his new role as Hilton head, Nassetta will oversee hotel brands including Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Homewood Suites by Hilton and The Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Nassetta will help further Blackstone's strategy of growing the luxury brand in the US and accelerating its growth internationally through strategic partnerships. The luxury chain merged with Hilton International last year.

Prior to joining Host, Nassetta co-founded real estate investment and advisory firm Bailey Capital Corporation in 1991, and also spent seven years as chief development officer and in various capacities with The Oliver Carr Company.

Nassetta has a degree in finance from the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce and studied international finance at the London School of Economics. He serves as a director of CoStar Group and is second vice chair of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. Nassetta is also a member and chairman of The Real Estate Roundtable.

Following the Hilton deal, co-chairman and chief executive of Hilton Hotels, Stephen Bollenbach, retired from the company. Matthew Hart will step down as president and chief operating officer but will serve as a member of Hilton's board of directors.