Morgans announces major shakeup to executive team, board of directors

NEW YORK CITY Morgans Hotel Group Co. has tapped Michael Gross to be its new CEO, and the company has also named a new chief operating officer, chief development officer and new directors, including billionaire Ron Burkle.

Daniel Flannery and Yoav Gery join Morgans as chief operating officer and chief development officer, respectively. Both come to Morgans from Marriott International, where they worked to help launch the Edition brand.

Morgans President Marc Gordon, whose agreement with the company expires April 1, is leaving to pursue other interests. Gordon was named president in October 2009 and had been employed by Morgans since its it went public.

Gross, an executive with Burkle’s Yucaipa investment company, has served on the Morgans board of directors since 2009. His experience includes hospitality investing with Yucaipa, Prentice Capital Management, Lehman Brothers Inc. and Salomon Smith Barney. He holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University.

Yucaipa is Morgans’ largest stakeholder, owning 11% percent of common stock and a US$75 million preferred security investment in the company.

Gross succeeds Fred Kleisner, the interim CEO who took over for scandal-plagued Ed Scheetz, who resigned in 2007.

David Hamamoto, currently chairman of the board and one of Morgans’ largest shareholders, becomes executive chairman. Jason Taubman Kalisman, founding member of the company’s largest shareholder, OTK Associates, will join the company’s board.

Flannery was a managing director at Marriott, overseeing the Edition launch. Prior to that, he spent seven years as vice president and area general manager at The Ritz Carlton Hotel Co., responsible for the company’s hotels in the Northeastern United States.

Gery was most recently chief development officer for full-service hotels in North America at Marriott. He also helped launch the Edition brand, overseeing global development efforts in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Kleisner and Gordon are both stepping down from the board. Kleisner will serve as a senior advisor to the company going forward, while Gordon will act as a consultant to Morgans for the rest of 2011.