London: InterContinental Hotels unexpectedly announced Andrew Cosslett will step down as chief executive on 30 June , naming finance director Richard Solomons as his replacement.
The world’s biggest hotelier said 55-year-old Cosslett had decided to step down after six years at the helm and there would be no change to the company’s strategy.
A spokesman said there had been no boardroom split or health issues and denied that Cosslett may be immediately moving to a new job.
“Now is a good time to step down with the business going well and it is a good time to hand over the reins,” the company spokesman said on Wednesday.
Solomons, 49, has been finance director since the company demerged from pubs group Mitchells and Butlers in 2003, and has been the chief architect along with Cosslett of a strategy to sell off most of its owned hotels and operate as a management and franchise operator like US rivals.
“The market will be disappointed at Cosslett’s departure but he has a good sense of timing and is probably sick of living in an aeroplane or hotel room . Solomons is very capable and will ensure no change in strategy,” said analyst Nigel Parson at brokers Evolution Securities.
InterContinental shares dipped 2.4 % to 1,225 pence by 1040 GMT to be the third biggest faller on the FTSE 100 index in a slightly lower London stock market.
Chairman David Webster said the company understood and respected Cosslett’s decision to leave but would be extremely sorry to see him go.
“Richard and Andy have worked very closely over the last six years and in making this appointment the board is ensuring continuity in management and in our strategy to drive growth”.
Separately, Mitchells & Butlers said its chief executive, Adam Fowle, was to leave the company and the search for a successor was under way.