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Granada accused of hampering disposals

Forte, the leisure group facing a pounds 3bn-plus takeover bid from Granada, yesterday said it would continue with its disposal programme in spite of what is being seen as an attempt by Granada to slow that strategy.

Granada has asked the Takeover Panel to ensure any disposals considered to be material or important to the business of the Forte group should be put to shareholders for approval. Under rule 21 of the Takeover Code, the disposal of any asset worth more than 10 per cent of a company's value must be put to shareholders for approval during a takeover period. But the Granada camp has asked the Panel to enforce a further aspect of the ruling that ensures the disposal of any business considered material to the group, even if it does not account for 10 per cent or more of the group's value, should also be put to shareholders.

Forte said yesterday it was not doing anything that was "in any way against the rules". A spokesman said the company would press ahead with negotiations that had started well before the Granada bid was announced. Forte is reported to be in talks to sell its White Hart hotels chain for about pounds 100m.

A spokesman hit out at Granada's tactics saying, "One minute Granada is alleging that we are being slow to realise shareholder value. Now he [Granada chairman Gerry Robinson] is trying to slow us down."