Marriott International Inc., the world's biggest hotel operator, said its chief executive, Arne Sorenson, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and will undergo chemotherapy.
The Bethesda, Md.-based company said Mr. Sorenson, 60 years old, was diagnosed Wednesday with stage 2 pancreatic cancer by a medical team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He will remain in his role as president and CEO while undergoing treatment, the company said.
“The cancer was discovered early,” Mr. Sorenson said in the company's press release Friday. “It does not appear to have spread and the medical team — and I — are confident that we can realistically aim for a complete cure.”
Mr. Sorenson's treatment plan will begin next week with chemotherapy, and his doctors expect he will need surgery by the end of the year, Marriott said. “We are not anticipating a leave of absence at this point,” a company spokeswoman said. “We have a succession plan and process in place should the need arise.”
She said the succession plan was in place before Mr. Sorenson's diagnosis. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. analyst C. Patrick Scholes, in wishing Mr. Sorenson a speedy recovery, said Marriott has “a deep stable of quality talent” in the event the CEO has to take an extended leave of absence.
Mr. Sorenson has been CEO since 2012, when he became the first person without the Marriott family name to assume that role. He led the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in September 2016, creating a hotel giant with a presence in 130 countries and territories. The company has 30 hotel brands, including Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Le Méridien, Courtyard and Aloft.
Marriott is scheduled to release its first-quarter results on May 10. Mr. Sorenson will be on the earnings call, the Marriott spokeswoman said. Shares of Marriott rose 2.4% on Friday.
Marriott is still working through problems associated with its Starwood acquisition. In November, the company said the reservation database for Starwood properties was hacked, exposing the personal information of hundreds of millions of guests. There have also been problems integrating the rewards-points system, and an activist investor had criticized the company for having too many brands. Marriott also had to deal with a strike last year involving 8,000 union workers.
“Arne Sorenson is a warrior who has overcome many challenges in his life, and we look forward to his full recovery,” said D. Taylor, president of Unite Here, the union that represents more than 20,000 Marriott hotel workers across North America.
BY AISHA AL-MUSLIM