CEO of The Cosmopolitan will leave as Vegas resort's ownership shifts to Blackstone Group

Industries Associated Press

The CEO of The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip, who led the hotel-casino from its opening to its pending $1.73 billion sale, is leaving by the end of the year.

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John Unwin was first tapped by Deutsche Bank AG to be CEO of the 2,960-room property in 2009 as it moved forward with building the swanky high-rise after the original developer defaulted on the loan.

The $3.9 billion hotel-casino opened in December 2010 and struggled to make a profit amid the effects of the recession.

Unwin said in a statement Tuesday that he was leaving for a new venture, which he didn't name. He said The Blackstone Group LP was well-positioned for success.

"My task was to create a new type of luxury casino resort that would bring something different to the city while encapsulating the best of what Las Vegas has to offer. I have worked with an amazing team over the past five years to achieve that goal," he said in the statement.

He wasn't available for further comment.

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Before The Cosmopolitan, Unwin was general manager of Caesars Palace on the Strip for five years.

His departure comes as the hotel-casino's ownership shifts from Deutsche Bank to Blackstone, which announced in May that it was buying the property for $1.73 billion.

The deal is expected to close later this month.

"John Unwin has done a great job of achieving a market-leading position by creating a unique point of view on Las Vegas, a distinctive guest experience and a sought-after brand," Jon Gray, Blackstone's real estate chief, said in a statement. "We look forward to building upon that success as we move ahead."

The company didn't offer an indication of who would be hired for the role after Unwin's departure.

Blackstone spokesman Peter Rose said it would be inappropriate for the company to comment considering the purchase hasn't been finalized.

Unwin said he would remain a consultant to the hotel-casino during the transition.