City File: Forte shares

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The Independent Online
AFTER a battering in recent weeks, Forte shares may be set to bounce back. A change of sentiment towards the hotels, catering and restaurant group looks likely with boardroom changes in the offing and Forte more determined than ever to dispose of its Gardner Merchant contract catering business.

Insiders say that Lord Forte, who will be 84 in November, will retire shortly and be replaced by Rocco, his son and chief executive. New executive and non- executive directors are also expected. A triumvirate of Rocco, Donald Main, finance director, and Alan Hearn, who currently oversees the hotels side, will run the company.

It was the recent collapse of Gardner's projected pounds 500m sale to Compass Group that raised questions about the direction of the company. Company executives say that the cloud over the shares will lift when Gardner is sold.