Gormly to take over at Trafalgar House

ALLAN GORMLY, head of the engineering division of Trafalgar House, is expected to take over as chief executive of the Ritz hotel to engineering conglomerate, while Sir Eric Parker, currently chief executive, and Sir Nigel Broackes, the chairman, step down.

The company will issue a statement after its board meeting this morning, largely to thank shareholders for their support against the unsuccessful tender offer from Hongkong Land, the property company owned by Jardine Matheson. Board changes were promised in a circular issued to shareholders last week.

Simon and Henry Keswick, the brothers who run Jardine, will seek a meeting today with Trafalgar in the wake of their offer for 15 per cent of Trafalgar's shares.

The tender is expected to have attracted less than 1 per cent take-up, making it void. That will leave Hongkong Land with just the 14.9 per cent stake acquired at the beginning of the month.

The poor take-up is unlikely to deter the Keswicks from seeking seats on Trafalgar's board, however, or from suggesting ways in which the two groups could co-operate to improve Trafalgar's performance and prospects.

Trafalgar is likely to agree to the meeting as it is keen to find out what Jardine's intentions are.

Despite the aggression of the dawn raid and tender offer, the signs are that Jardine wants to be more conciliatory.

Trafalgar's largest shareholders are pressing for a non-executive chairman to be appointed from outside the group, and it is likely that Jardine will use this to argue for the appointment of one of the Keswicks, or Sir Charles Powell, the former foreign affairs adviser to Lady Thatcher who is now on the Jardine board. Trafalgar is believed to have made a list of candidates for chairman from outside the group.

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