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Charlotte-based Extended Stay America names new CEO

James Donald, CEO of Charlotte-based hotel chain Extended Stay America, resigned on Tuesday, effective August 24.
James Donald, CEO of Charlotte-based hotel chain Extended Stay America, resigned on Tuesday, effective August 24. Bloomberg News

Charlotte-based hotel chain Extended Stay America on Tuesday named the chief executive of theater chain AMC Entertainment its new CEO, effective Aug. 24.

Gerry Lopez, 56, will replace Jim Donald, who has led the company since February 2012 and guided it through its 2013 initial public offering. Donald, 61, will remain a senior adviser through the end of the year.

Extended Stay’s shares climbed 3.49 percent to $19.25 in after-hours trading Tuesday.

In a statement, Doug Geoga, chairman of Extended Stay’s board of directors, praised Donald’s tenure at the company. “We greatly appreciate everything that he has done to bring the company on its extraordinary journey through its IPO to where it stands today, ready for Gerry to build upon the infrastructure that has now been put in place,” he said.

Before Extended Stay, Donald served as CEO of Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks from 2005 until 2008. He was paid $934,103 last year, down from the $1.37 million he made in 2013. His pay included $33,920 for the cost of “travel to and from Charlotte.”

Lopez has been CEO of Leawood, Kan.-based AMC since 2009 and led the company through an IPO in December 2013.

At Extended Stay, his base salary will be $1 million, and he will be eligible for a bonus of at least $400,000 “regardless of performance,” according to a letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He will also receive restricted stock in the company.

Lopez will be covered by the company’s standard relocation policy if he moves to Charlotte, according to the letter. If he doesn’t move to Charlotte, he will be eligible for $3,000 per month for housing-related expenses for a second residence in Charlotte. Work-related travel between Charlotte and his home would be reimbursable.

Extended Stay America has had a rocky corporate history. It went private in 2004 when it was bought by the Blackstone Group private equity firm. The company was then sold in 2007 to a real estate firm for $8 billion but filed for bankruptcy two years later under a heavy debt load. A group of private equity firms, including Blackstone, bought the company out of bankruptcy in 2010.

As of Tuesday’s close of $18.60, the company’s shares were down 7 percent since its November 2013 IPO.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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