Forte decides not to sell Harvester

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The Independent Online
FORTE has removed the 'for sale' sign from its 78 Harvester pub restaurants because offers have failed to meet the asking price, understood to be pounds 120m, writes John Shepherd.

One unnamed potential buyer did offer pounds 110m, Forte said. It declined to say whether it was considering the other option of floating Harvester on the stock market. Its airport services division is due to be floated next spring.

The company, best known as a hotel operator, said the decision not to accept a lower price had also been taken 'in view ecent performance'.

Most Harvester outlets are in the South-east, and are on course to make operating profits of pounds 10m this year. Development plans include adding travel lodges on some sites.

Investors reacted unfavourably to the news. Forte's shares fell 3.5p to 243.5p.

The Harvester chain has been up for sale for most of this year. Whitbread, the brewer and pub retailer, is understood to have looked it over.

Forte also yesterday completed the sale of its half share in Kentucky Fried Chicken in the UK for pounds 40m to PepsiCo.