Richard North, chief executive of InterContinental Hotels Group, is to step down at the end of this month to make way for someone with more experience in brand development and operations.
InterContinental said the decision had been taken "by mutual agreement".
North, previously the finance director, became chief executive in October 2002.
He managed the group through its separation from Six Continents, formerly Bass.
The company's strategy has been to cut costs and capital expenditure and reduce the number of hotel properties it owned.
It is currently selling more than £2.2b-worth of assets.
But the company said: "Our future is increasingly focused on growing our global brands in a predominantly managed and franchised hotel system.
"The execution of this strategy needs different leadership skills based on brand development and operations."
A search is underway for a successor to North and non-executive chairman David Webster will take on the role in the interim period.
North said: "I would have loved to continue to manage InterContinental Hotels Group Plc as it evolves to become the world's leading hospitality brand owner.
"But I recognise that someone else whose whole business background has been developing and managing brands may be better placed to ensure the company achieves this vision."
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