Kempinski Hotels appoints Markus Semer as new CEO after Bernabé resigns

01 April 2016 by
Kempinski Hotels appoints Markus Semer as new CEO after Bernabé resigns

Luxury hotel management group Kempinski Hotels has undergone another major management restructuring which sees the resignation of chief executive Alejandro Bernabé, who will be replaced by Markus Semer, former deputy chief executive.

Bernabé's departure comes just weeks after Kempinski Hotels dropped its legal case against former president and chief executive Reto Wittwer, who was accused by Kempinski Hotels in November 2015 of channelling £4m of funds out of the company."

The accusations were made less than a year after Wittwer retired in October 2014, following a glittering 19-year career with the company, which had built up a portfolio of around 75 five-star hotels and residences in 31 countries under his stewardship.

Bernabé, who replaced Wittwer when he retired, issued a condemnatory statement in November accusing Wittwer of "badly letting down" the company and flouting its values "in the pursuit of personal greed and unlawful gain".

However, last month Kempinski Hotels, which is owned by the Thai royal family, appeared to retract its accusations against Wittwer, after reaching what it called "an amicable", out-of-court settlement with the former president and chief.

The company said that "the unfortunate allegations made in its press statement on 2 November 2015 were unfortunate and should not have been published".

It added: "Both parties agreed they would put an end to these unfortunate accusations and allegations, and would refrain from any action against each other, once the facts became clear and understood."

It is unclear where Bernabé is headed. When he was appointed chief executive, company described the move as part of "a long-term succession plan…after being identified [by the company] as one of its talents a little over a decade ago". The company also said he had an "inspirational and rigorous management style".

Announcing Bernabé's resignation this week Kempinski's chairman, Chumpol NaLamlieng, stated: "On behalf of the supervisory board, I would like to thank Alejandro for his dedication to the group over these years and wish him every success in his future endeavours."

In a statement the following day announcing Semer's appointment, NaLamlieng, said Semer, "represents the new generation of management for the group. He enjoys the loyalty, trust and respect of hotel owners as well as staff within the group."

Kempinski Hotels will be keen to establish a calmer course under Semer, following two years of management changes and scandal. Shortly before Wittwer's retirement the Stafford and the Bentley in London left the brand. A number of key directors also left shortly after Bernabé's appointment, including chief operating officer Duncan O'Rourke; Gemil Uestuen, Kempinski Trading's chief executive; and Jeremy Ward, senior vice-president of IT Solutions.

Kempinski Hotels reveals alleged fraud figure of nearly £4m >>

Kempinski Hotels files criminal allegations of fraud against former chief executive >>

Stafford London and Kempinski Hotels terminate management agreement >>

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