HOTELS: Better than Bonds

Arnold Sigurd Kirkeby (rhymes with irk-a-bee), 44, breakfasted early at Manhattan's tony Hampshire House, which he owns. After breakfast he slowly smoked his way through two fat, black Rey Del Mundo cigars. Then he was ready for battle.

It was one of the toughest fights of Midwesterner Kirkeby's nine-year career as a hotelman, and the stakes were high: control of Manhattan's 375-room Sherry-Netherland Hotel. Sharply at 10 a.m., big, confident Mr. Kirkeby arrived at 14 Wall Street for the annual meeting of Sherneth Corp., which owns the Sherry-Netherland.

Sherneth stockholders had not met since 1936, when, under a ten-year voting trust, a...

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