Forte rubbishes Granada bid 'farce' - Business - News - The Independent

Forte rubbishes Granada bid 'farce'

Sir Rocco claims Robinson 'does not believe in style or service'

SIR ROCCO FORTE yesterday called Granada's bid for the Forte hotel and restaurant group "a farce". Sir Rocco said Gerry Robinson, chief executive of Granada, was a corporate raider interested only in sucking the group dry before moving on to another target. Granada, he complained, had no long-term strategy: "He's a milker of businesses, not a builder of businesses. He has to keep buying things to keep going."

He said Mr Robinson had no concept of quality, service or style: "Robinson doesn't have one quality business in his portfolio. He doesn't talk about style and service - he doesn't believe in them - which is why he's such an inappropriate person to run this business."

Sir Rocco's outspoken re-marks contrast sharply with the carefully crafted criticisms of Mr Robinson. Although he has not directly attacked Sir Rocco, the Granada boss's charges that Forte has been poorly managed clearly hit home. In the offer document he chastised Forte for having a "misguided strategy", missing its performance targets, and "failing to exploit good brands". Forte, shareholders were told, "has lost credibility and forfeited the right to count on your support". The subtle portrayal of Sir Rocco as a toff, ignoring his humble origins as the grandson of an Italian immigrant, also must have hurt.

Mr Robinson said he was astonished by Sir Rocco's criticisms. "It's just wrong," he said of the corporate raider charge. "I've never been at a business for less than eight or nine years."

Sir Rocco defended his own performance, pointing in particular to recent jumps in pre-tax profit and a youthful new management team. Many of the ideas put forward by Mr Robinson he claims as his own, such as the flotation of the Alpha Airports Group.

The figures in the offer document, however, show that compared with the FTA All-Share Index, Forte's stock has been falling, or at best static, for five years while Granada has soared. Mr Robinson cites the return on a pounds 100 investment made in late 1990. At Forte it would, by now, have gained pounds 30. At Granada, pounds 444. The defence against such comparisons is that the baseline is just prior to the recession and Gulf War crisis that devastated the leisure industry.

Such vitriol early in the bid battle seems likely to signal a dirty, no-holds-barred scrap. The first battlefield, being approached from both sides next week, is the Council of Forte, the trust that holds a controlling block of votes. Mr Robinson wants them to remain neutral. Sir Rocco will not say what he will ask of them.

Whichever way the council goes, the Takeover Panel will have the final say. During the last bid for Forte, in 1971, it decided that the council's heavily weighted trust shares would not count towards acceptance. But in that case both the Council and Forte's board agreed.

If the council's trust shares are discounted, remaining shareholders suddenly become significant. The largest is Mercury Asset Management with 12.5 per cent. It also owns almost 15 per cent of Granada. The reasons it built up the two stakes are quite different, and not encouraging for Sir Rocco. Forte was bought because MAM thought the property portfolio attractively priced. It invested in Granada because it believed in Mr Robinson. Faced with a similar situation during the Granada bid for LWT two years ago, it sold.

If successful, Granada says it will rejuvenate Forte's roadside restaurants, push the mid-market Meridien hotel brand and rationalise budget inns under the Posthouse and Travelodge names. It also plans to sell Lillywhites, the remaining Alpha stake, the Welcome Break motorway service stations and its stake in the Savoy Group. Among possible buyers for the service stations is the drinks group Whitbread.

Profile, page 5

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'I felt like that was the lowest I’d ever felt'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
News
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Sport
Tito Vilanova passed away aged just 45
footballThe club's former manager died in April, less than a year after he stood down
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch
artAnd it's even for a good cause
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Life and Style
techCriminals are targeting an e-reader security flaw
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
newsBut just how much does a 122-carat coloured diamond go for these days?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Payroll & Accounts Assistant

£20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week