Forte's awaited board shake-up disappoints City

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The Independent Online
THE long-awaited boardroom changes at Forte, the hotels and restaurants group, were announced yesterday but some City analysts were disappointed because they had been looking for a more radical shake-up.

Rocco Forte, son of Lord Forte, the company's founder, is to combine the roles of chairman and chief executive. The post of chief executive is disappearing but the responsibilities associated with it go with Mr Forte to the chairmanship, which is being vacated by his father. Lord Forte, 83, will remain on the board, replacing Lord Thorneycroft as president.

The City had been expecting the changes since the company recently reported a worse-than-expected slump in interim profits from pounds 42m to pounds 24m.

Explaining the reasons behind the shelving of the chief executive's post, a spokesman said: 'With Rocco becoming executive chairman, there was no need to place somebody between him and two managing directors.'

However, he added: 'We are not dogmatic about it. There are no plans to appoint a chief executive but in future that might happen.'

There have been rumours that Robert Peel, managing director of Mount Charlotte, would be joining the board.

Forte's two managing directors are Alan Hearn, for the hotels businesses, and Tony Monnickendam, for the branded restaurant operations. Both have main board seats.

Analysts were heartened by the appointment of two non-executive directors. They are Sir Anthony Tennant, who will retire as chairman of Guinness, the drinks company, at the end of the year, and Sir Paul Girolami, chairman of Glaxo Holdings, the pharmaceuticals group.

Sir Anthony could not say how much time he would be able to devote to Forte as deputy chairman, but he said: 'The important thing is that I'll be available for consultation as things develop and change.

'I will chair a couple of board committees . . . and I'll be seeing a fair amount of Rocco, I think.'

All the board changes take effect from today.

Forte's shares, which have outperformed the volatile stock market by 12 per cent over the past month, fell by 3p to 150p.

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