Executives resign at Queens Moat Houses

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The Independent Online
QUEENS Moat Houses, the troubled hotels group, lost its deputy chairman and finance director yesterday when Martin Marcus and David Hersey resigned from the company.

The resignations came on the eve of a full meeting of representatives of 62 banks, which have loaned more than pounds 1.3bn to the company. Debt repayments were recently put on hold by the banks.

Queens declined to discuss the resignations, although a source close to the company said the timing ahead of today's bankers' meeting was coincidental.

Mr Marcus and Mr Hersey were suspended from their duties on 2 April, two days after dealings in the shares were unexpectedly halted at 47.5p pending clarification of the company's financial position.

Mr Marcus was being groomed to succeed David Bairstow as chairman of the group, the second-largest hotelier in the UK and third-biggest in Europe.

Many shareholders have expressed anger over the sale by Mr Marcus of 1.1 million shares in early February, just a couple of days before the company entered the two-month close season for directors' dealings ahead of publication of financial results.

There are also rumours that Mr Bairstow may soon retire. The company recently recruited Andrew Coppell, formerly finance director at Ratners, to create an 'appropriate financial and management reporting structure'.

Bankers at the meeting in London are set to receive a finalised report of the independent investigation into the company's financial affairs by the chartered accountants Grant Thornton.

It is understood that the meeting will be told that the company lost about pounds 85m in 1992, which compares with analysts' forecasts before the share suspension of profits of pounds 80m.