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Ashford Hospitality Trust CEO To Resign

Ashford Hospitality Trust has agreed to sell the Hilton Boston Back Bay Hotel for $171M.

Ashford Hospitality Trust's CEO is heading for the exit as the publicly traded hotel owner prepares to be delisted and sell off massive chunks of its portfolio.

Ashford CEO and President Rob Hays is parting ways with the company, the Dallas-based REIT announced Thursday evening. Stephen Zsigray, Ashford's current senior vice president of corporate finance and strategy, will take Hays’ place as CEO.

“We are incredibly grateful to Rob for his immense dedication and commitment to our organization,” Ashford Hospitality Trust Chairman Monty Bennett said in a statement. “Although we're disappointed with his departure, we fully appreciate and respect his desire to pursue his personal plans and business endeavors.”

Hays is leaving to pursue a new business opportunity outside of the real estate industry with his father, the company said, but he will first work with Zsigray for the next few months during the transition.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Stephen for many years,” Hays said in a statement praising Zsigray’s understanding of the industry. “Ashford Trust is well positioned for long-term success.”

Zsigray joined the REIT in 2014 and has held his position since May 2020, where he oversees Ashford’s cash management platform and manages its corporate hedging strategy. Before joining Ashford, Zsigray worked at UBS in New York and at Deloitte Consulting in St. Louis. 

During his tenure at Ashford, Zsigray has negotiated roughly $3B in mortgage maturity extensions and secured $1B in new financing for the company and its properties, according to the release. He has also helped the company's platforms raise $1.2B in equity.

Ashford declined to comment beyond the press release.

The CEO transition comes at a turbulent time for Ashford, which is facing defaults on multiple properties and has around $2.6B of debt due to mature in 2026. The REIT plans to sell off a dozen of its hotels, with the $171M sale of the 390-key Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel closing earlier this month.

Also this month, Ashford announced that it would be delisting from the New York Stock Exchange and returning to operating as a private company.

The company lost $40.8M last year, The Dallas Morning News reported. It plans to complete the delisting process via a reverse split stock transaction this summer.

Late last year, the REIT handed the keys to five of its properties back to lenders in December, reducing its portfolio size to 95 hotels.

That handover may be just the beginning for the REIT. As many as 19 others could face a similar fate, and Ashford also anticipated transferring 14 properties to a trust representing three borrowing banks, CoStar reported.