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Host Hotels CFO rejoins Morgan Stanley as global head of lodging

Michael Bluhm, executive vice president and CFO of Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., is leaving the real estate investment trust to return to Morgan Stanley as managing director and global head of lodging.

Bluhm plans to step down from Host at the end of 2019, and the company said it has initiated a "comprehensive" search process with the assistance of a leading executive search firm. He joined Host in 2017 after a career at Morgan Stanley in which he served as managing director, head of western region real estate, and global head of lodging and leisure investment banking.

Bluhm will act as a senior adviser to the company through Feb. 15, 2020, to ensure a smooth transition. Brian Macnamara, Host's senior vice president and corporate controller, will serve as principal financial officer, effective Jan. 1, 2020, until the company appoints a new executive vice president and CFO.

In a note, Jefferies analyst David Katz said Bluhm's "surprise" departure is a modest negative for Host shares, given the positive evolution of the company's portfolio during his tenure.

Evercore ISI analyst Rich Hightower said in a note that Bluhm's family lives in Los Angeles, where his Morgan Stanley job will be based, while Host is headquartered near Washington, D.C. Hightower said his conversations with Host's management team indicate Bluhm's move is "100% based on family considerations," and an "entirely amicable separation."

The move will bring Morgan Stanley the added benefit of "an important built-in client relationship," he added.