Sol Kerzner steps down as CEO of his hotel empire

Posted On Sunday, 15 January 2012 02:00 Published by
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Hotel and resort magnate Sol Kerzner has stepped down as CEO of Kerzner International.

HOTEL and resort magnate Sol Kerzner has stepped down as CEO of Kerzner International.

While most South Africans were still on holiday, Kerzner International announced on January 3 that he would be replaced immediately by South African-born Alan Leibman.

Leibman joined the group in 1994 and most recently served as regional president for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The announcement passed beneath most news radar screens, with travel and tourism news websites only posting the offical statement a few days ago. This was despite Kerzner International hitting the headlines last year with its debt woes.

On Friday afternoon, Kerzner International’s website still listed Kerzner as chairman and CEO.

According to the statement, Kerzner will remain as chairman of the empire he started building in South Africa in the 1960s.

Kerzner first stepped down as CEO at the end of 2003, making way for his son, Howard “Butch” Kerzner. After Kerzner jnr died in a helicopter crash in the Dominican Republic in October 2006, Kerzner snr reluctantly took up the CEO position again.

Leibman could hardly have asked for a more challenging time to take over from the 76-year old Kerzner.

Rumours of debt problems in the multibillion-dollar Bahamas-based group started early last year when the Wall Street Journal reported that it had appointed advisers to restructure $3-billion of debt, of which $2.6-billion was due to be repaid in September.

Most of the debt was acquired in a 2006 deal, but the group’s ability to repay it was affected by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

Last November the group announced a debt-for-equity swap with debtor Brookfield after failing to restructure the mortgage debt.

Brookfield agreed to exchange about $175-million of debt for ownership of the flagship Bahamas-based Atlantis Paradise Island resort, the Bahamas One&Only Ocean Club and a halfinterest in the One&Only Palmilla in Mexico.

Kerzner International vicepresident of global communication Jennifer Ferguson said on Friday the transfer of ownership to Brookfield had not been finalised yet “because of the holidays and the complexity of the deal”. But everything was on track.

Kerzner International will still manage day-to-day operations at the three resorts.

Among other assets, Kerzner International still owns One&Only Cape Town, despite rumours last year that the luxury resort near the V&A Waterfront might also be up for sale.

Source: Business Times

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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