Choice Hotels recruits Ledsinger to be its second chief in two years St. Joe Co. president had been top official of Promus chain

Hospitality industry

August 05, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Choice Hotels International Inc. named a former top official of Promus Hotel Corp. as its chief executive yesterday, a move the Silver Spring hotel franchiser contends will help it capitalize on industry trends and grow domestically and internationally.

Charles A. Ledsinger Jr. becomes the company's second president and chief executive officer in as many years.

Six weeks ago, Choice Hotels' president and chief executive officer, William R. Floyd, resigned in the wake of a nearly 30 percent drop since March in the company's stock price, which hit a 12-month low. Floyd, a former Taco Bell Corp. executive, had been Choice's CEO since October 1996.

Choice shares closed yesterday at $12.375, down 6.25 cents.

"As an industry veteran with an excellent reputation and extensive experience in strategic planning, deal structuring, and finance, Chuck brings a number of critical strengths that will enable Choice to continue to capitalize on industry trends and grow profitably," said Stewart Bainum Jr., Choice Hotels' chairman and founder, who spun off the lodging concern from nursing home operator Manor Care Inc. in 1996.

Choice Hotels, with brands such as EconoLodge, Clarion, Comfort, Quality, Sleep Inn and Rodeway Inn, is the world's second-largest hotel franchiser with 4,268 hotels in 33 countries.

Ledsinger joins Choice Hotels from the St. Joe Co., Florida's largest private landowner and a real estate developer, where he was president and chief operating officer.

He joined St. Joe in April 1997 as chief financial officer and was appointed president and chief operating officer in February. During his tenure, he was involved in the company's push away from timber production and into real estate development.

"Chuck certainly has a full complement of CEO skills, and we appreciate his contributions to the transformation of St. Joe," said Peter S. Rummell, St. Joe's chairman and chief executive. Rummell said the president's position at St. Joe will not be filled, at least in the near term.

Ledsinger, 48, will take the helm at Choice Hotels at the end of the month. He will also become a member of the company's board, replacing Robert C. Hazard Jr., who retired.

Before joining St. Joe, Ledsinger was a senior vice president and chief financial officer of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. There, he oversaw the split of Harrah's and Promus into separate companies.

Ledsinger's two decades of hotel experience includes work with Holiday Inn and Embassy Suites. He rose through the ranks at Promus to become a senior vice president and the company's chief financial officer.

"I am delighted to be returning to the hotel industry, where I have spent most of my career," Ledsinger said.

"Leading the world's second-largest franchiser, particularly one with Choice's stable of brands, innovative technology and expanding overseas presence," he said, "is an exciting and challenging opportunity."

Pub Date: 8/05/98

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