Forte denies renewing Savoy fight

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The Independent Online
FORTE, the hotel group, yesterday denied rumours suggesting it was about to resume hostilities with the rival Savoy group, writes John Shepherd.

The speculation was kindled by news that a block of shares, carrying 4.3 per cent of Savoy's voting rights, had been put up for sale by the receivers of St Anselm Development, owner of the holding.

If Forte, which owns 42 per cent of the voting rights, made a move it would have to break a standstill agreement with Savoy that still has two years to run. 'We have an agreement we're happy with, and we're happy to stick with that,' a spokesman for Forte said.

The company also confirmed it would soon make the buyout offer it has to make to minority shareholders in Corela, which it acquired as part of last month's pounds 64m purchase of Sogerba, the French motorway services group.

Forte owns 56 per cent of Corela, a holding company which owns leases on some of Sogerba's 53 service stations. Shares in Corela remain suspended on the Lyons bourse.

Although the Corela offer is mandatory under French law, Forte said it was keen to gain absolute control. There is speculation that Forte will offer about Fr310 per share, valuing the minority holdings at Fr95m ( pounds 11.3m).