The board of RLJ Lodging Trust today accepted the resignation of Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr., as president & CEO of the company. Baltimore is resigning to become president & CEO of Hilton Worldwide’s planned hotel REIT. His resignation is effective at RLJ Lodging Trust on May 11, 2016.
Baltimore is a co-founder of the company, alongside Robert L. Johnson, who is currently RLJ's executive chairman. Baltimore served as the company's CEO since its IPO in 2011. During his tenure as CEO, the company has become one of the largest hotel REITs with 125 hotels in 21 states, consisting of nearly 21,000 rooms with an enterprise value in excess of $4 billion.
“On behalf of RLJ Lodging Trust, I accept Tom’s decision to resign as CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust," Johnson said. "I have known Tom as a personal friend and a dynamic business colleague for over 17 years. Tom, second only to Dr. John Malone, is the most successful business executive and business leader that I have had the good fortune to partner and work with. As CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust, he has demonstrated the commitment to integrity, transparency, and most of all, the ability to maximize value creation for shareholders and other stakeholders in the company. His leadership style helped to build RLJ Lodging Trust into a company that attracted the best and brightest executive talent that I am confident will continue to carry on his managerial style and business success. I congratulate and wish him the very best of success in his new career assignment.”
“It is bittersweet to be leaving RLJ Lodging Trust," Baltimore said. "It has been an honor and privilege to work with and partner with Bob Johnson and the incredible team of men and women assembled over the last 17 years. I am proud of our achievements, especially over the last five years as a public company. I am grateful to our board and associates for their unwavering support and encouragement. Joining Hilton Worldwide as president & CEO of their planned hotel REIT is the only opportunity within our industry that could have compelled me to make this move. I look forward to the next chapter to work with Chris Nassetta and his superb team at Hilton.”
Johnson also announced that the board of directors of RLJ Lodging Trust has appointed Ross Bierkan, EVP & chief investment officer, as the interim CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust. Bierkan has worked with Baltimore for the past 16 years. The board also announced the formation of a CEO search committee headed by senator Evan Bayh, chairman of the governance committee, to conduct a search among internal and external candidates to identify and hire a permanent CEO. The board did not set a date for the committee to commence its search.
“Ross has been an integral part of RLJ Lodging Trust from the very beginning," Johnson said. "As EVP & chief investment officer, he has been a major participant and a significant contributor to the strategic development and execution of the RLJ Lodging Trust success story. We are confident that he will be able to motivate and orchestrate management’s execution of our company goals and objectives and continue to maximize shareholder value.”
“Ross has been a superb executive and trusted partner over the last 16 years at RLJ Lodging Trust," Baltimore said. "As a seasoned hospitality executive, he is experienced in hotel operations, and has led our acquisition team since our launch in 2000. Ross has worked closely with every member of our Executive team and our Board and has sound judgment and impeccable integrity.”