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by Michael J. Shapiro | December 14, 2011

J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. stepped down as Marriott chief executive officer yesterday, and the board named current president and chief operating officer Arne Sorenson as the new president and CEO. Sorenson becomes just the third CEO in the company's history and the first outside of the Marriott family. Bill Marriott succeeded his father, who started the company in 1927. "As we approach the 85th birthday of our company in 2012 and I proudly celebrate my 60th year of service, I decided to recommend to the board that Arne Sorenson take over the CEO responsibilities," said Marriott in a statement. "I have been so fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented people in the world over the past six decades." Marriott will continue to work closely with the board of directors, in the capacity of executive chairman and chairman of the board.