After five years at the head of the Hakkasan Group, Neil Moffitt has confirmed he has stepped down as its chief executive.

The decision follows weeks of speculation around a proposed merger with hotel giant SBE, a move that would see the two companies create one of the most significant global players in the hospitality industry.

Moffitt decided to liquidate his interests in Hakkasan Group prior to the closing and they have been acquired by the current shareholder. He has been replaced by Nick McCabe with immediate effect. McCabe was president and chief operating officer of Hakkasan Group

Moffitt said: “The task I set myself is now complete. Over the last five years we have transformed Hakkasan Group from the hopeful and ambitious nightlife company we once were to an extraordinary global hospitality corporation with more than sixty nightlife, daylife and restaurant venues spanning four continents. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in these last few years. With 7,000 extremely talented employees worldwide, the business is now primed for continued success and ready to move into its next exciting phase of development. My passion for what we have built will never go away, however it feels like the right moment for me to step off the train and refocus on my own future and family.

“I feel honoured and privileged to have been at the helm for so long and I leave behind an incredibly talented and motivated team to continue the journey. I am looking forward to spending some time with my family, reflecting on what we have achieved and considering what my next project will be. I am proud to leave a lasting legacy and an excellent management team and wish the new shareholders and the team the best of luck on the next phase of the journey.”

Khalifa Bin Butti, chairman of Hakkasan Group, said: “Neil Moffitt has been the driving force of this company and we are incredibly grateful for his vision, commitment and leadership over the years. We are naturally disappointed to see him leave.”