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New CEO Marks a New Era for Carlson

January 9, 2008 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent

Travel and hospitality giant Carlson Cos. has announced the appointment of Hubert Joly as its new president and CEO, replacing Marilyn Carlson Nelson, who will continue as Carlson's chairman of the board. Joly will be the first person without family ties to the Carlsons to serve as president of the 70-year-old company. His appointment, which is effective March 1, makes him the fourth president and CEO of the family-owned company.

"Today we welcome a new member of an exclusive club," said an emotional Carlson Nelson at a news conference held at Carlson's Minneapolis headquarters. She symbolically passed down to Joly a replica trunk, which was given to her by her parents and represented the piece of luggage her great-grandfather carried with him to America. "This, I hope, will remind you of the legacy you are being entrusted with," she said.

The French-born Joly has been president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which grew its sales from $8.9 billion in 2003 to about $22 billion last year. His replacement has not been announced.

Before joining CWT, Joly served as an executive vice president with Vivendi Universal. "I am deeply honored to have been chosen to build on the legacy," Joly said, "and stand ready to accept the challenge." Carlson Cos.' brands include Regent Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels and T.G.I. Friday's restaurants. The company agreed to sell its cruise operation, Regent Seven Seas, to private equity firm Apollo Management only a month ago, in a transaction valued at around $1 billion.

Carlson Nelson said she plans to remain active with the company, especially in an ambassador-type role. However, she ended the conference with a bit of an operational forecast. "We plan to grow organically," she said, "and acquire targets to strengthen our global presence." (DE)

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