Granada faces pounds 160m computer hit

Granada's interim figures in June will be hit by a pounds 160m write-off against the value of its computer services arm, which analysts believe will be the next non-core business to be sold by the TV and leisure group.

The group, headed by Gerry Robinson, has decided to take the exceptional charge this time because the unexpected success of the recent Welcome Break, Exclusive hotel and Alpha Airports stake sales means the hit will be more than offset by one-off profits. Analysts believe the sale could raise pounds 90m.

There is increasing speculation, meanwhile, that long-time supporter Mercury Asset Management is steadily selling shares in Granada having held a 13 per cent stake at one point.

The sale of MAM's stake in Forte was key to Granada's success in last year's pounds 3.9bn hostile bid.

MAM is known to have been unhappy at having such an exposed position in the leisure sector's largest stock and the drip-feed of its shares on to the market in recent weeks is thought to have been a big contributor to their rapid retreat from a recent high of 978.5p.

A company spokesman said the fall, which included a 24.5p tumble last Friday to 881.5p, reflected a correction after they had jumped recently in response to the sale of the Welcome Break chain of motorway service stations.

But dealers believe MAM is unwinding its position, with some speculating it is irritated at the way Granada's public denial of a bid for neighbour Yorkshire Tyne-Tees left it with burnt fingers in that stock.

The Welcome Break sale alone netted a pounds 142m surplus over book value and the Exclusive hotels to have been sold so far raised pounds 40m more than net assets.

The success of the recent deals, which have raised more than pounds 1.3bn to set against the pounds 3.9bn cost of the Forte acquisition, has taken some pressure off the group in its bid to find a buyer for its 68 per cent stake in the Savoy group of hotels. However, a deal is expected within the next few months following a move to clean up the Savoy's balance sheet with a hotel revaluation at the time of the group's recent results.

Granada said at the time of its bid for Forte that it would raise pounds 1.3bn from disposals by September 1997.

It is now certain to raise considerably more, having reached its target early without yet selling the Savoy stake, in the books at pounds 261m, or some of the smaller hotels in Forte's 17-strong Exclusive chain.

The planned sale of the computer division, which made profits last year of pounds 9m from its maintenance and disaster recovery services, is the latest move towards focusing the company on two main divisions - hotels and catering on the one hand and media on the other.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project