Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. (NYSE: AHT) has announced that Chairman ArchieBennett, Jr. will retire on his 75th birthday, January 18, 2013,consistent with the Company’s Corporate Governance Guidelines. On January19, 2013, he will assume the role of Chairman Emeritus and advisor to theCompany providing his expertise and insights to the Company on variousinitiatives and projects. Monty J. Bennett, who has served as Director andChief Executive Officer of the Company since its formation in August 2003, willsucceed him in his role as Chairman, effective January 19, 2013.
“On behalf of the Company andthe Board of Directors, I want to thank my father, Archie Bennett, Jr., for hismany years of service and leadership to Ashford. His decades ofindustry knowledge and experience have been invaluable to the Company andsignificantly contributed to our total shareholder return outperformance versusour peers since our initial public offering in August, 2003. It has beena privilege to have him as our Chairman these past nine years and we lookforward to his continued contributions to our success as Chairman Emeritus,”said Monty J. Bennett.
The Company has also announcedthat the Board of Directors has appointed W. Michael Murphy as its new leadDirector, replacing Mr. Martin L. Edelman. Mr. Murphy, the Head ofLodging and Leisure Capital Markets for First Fidelity Companies, has been aDirector since the Company’s formation in August 2003.
In connection with these events,the Board of Directors has modified the Company’s Corporate GovernanceGuidelines to increase the size of the Board from seven to nine members and torotate several members and chairmanships of the Board’s committees. Effective as of January 19, 2013, the Company is pleased to announce thatMr. Douglas A. Kessler, the Company’s President, and Mr. Kamal Jafarnia havebeen appointed to the Board. Mr. Kessler will continue to serve theCompany as President, as he has done since January 2009. Prior to beingappointed President, Mr. Kessler was Ashford’s Chief Operating Officer and Headof Acquisitions since the Company’s formation. Mr. Jafarnia, who holds aB.A. from the University of Texas, a J.D. from Temple University School of Law,and an L.L.M. from Georgetown University Law Center, has over 15 years ofexperience in the real estate and financial services industry as an attorney,owner, principal, compliance officer and executive. Mr. Jafarnia is currentlycounsel in the Financial Services & Products Group and a member of the REITPractice Group in the New York office of Alston & Bird, LLP.
Monty J. Bennett commented, “TheBoard of Directors will be greatly enhanced by the additions of Mr. Kessler andMr Jafarnia. Mr. Kessler has already been instrumental in the growth andsuccess of Ashford since its initial public offering and has demonstrated greatleadership ability in his role as our President. Mr. Jafarnia has hadmany years of experience as a real estate securities lawyer in the REITindustry, which will greatly benefit the Company as Ashford continues to grow.”
The Company’s Board of Directorshas already initiated a search to fill the last vacancy resulting from theincrease in the Board’s size.
Effective January 19, 2013,Ashford announced that the Board’s Committees will be comprised of thefollowing members:
· Audit Committee: Thomas E. Callahan –Chairman, W. Michael Murphy, Philip S. Payne
· Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee:Martin L. Edelman – Chairman, Benjamin J. Ansell, Kamal Jafarnia
· Compensation Committee: Benjamin J. Ansell– Chairman, Thomas E. Callahan, Kamal Jafarnia
Ashford is a self-administeredreal estate investment trust focused on investing in the hospitality industry acrossall segments and at all levels of the capital structure. Additionalinformation can be found on the Company's website at www.ahtreit.com.