Lord Forte stands aside in bid battle

JOHN SHEPHERD

and MATHEW HORSMAN

Lord Forte is to take a back seat in the Forte company's defence against Granada' hostile pounds 3.3bn bid, which threatens to push one of the UK's biggest family business dynasties into the shadows.

The 87-year-old Lord Forte of Ripley, who built up the family ice-cream parlour business into the largest hotel company in the country, will stand aside, leaving Sir Rocco, his son, to take the lead in meetings of the full board and with the company's advisers.

Lord Forte, who celebrated his birthday yesterday, stepped down from day-to-day involvement in the company's affairs a couple of years ago but remains life president and still attends board meetings.

A spokesman for Forte confirmed yesterday that "Lord Forte will not be directly involved. He wants to leave Rocco to run the show."

The leading family members have clearly shown that they will not see the business dynasty crumble without a tough fight. Sir Rocco has fired off a salvo of personal attacks against Gerry Robinson, chief executive of Granada, since the bid was launched last Wednesday.

There were signs over the weekend, however, that the two sides were aiming to calm things down. Mr Robinson said yesterday: "We want this bid to be depersonalised. We are bidding for a public company."

A spokesman for the Forte camp backed Mr Robinson's call to end the personal mud-slinging, adding. "Of course, there has been a degree of anger."

Lord Forte believes the company can remain independent and added: "We don't need [a white knight]. We already have a knight, my son Rocco."

Mr Robinson said: "The issue is very straightforward. Forte has failed its shareholders on every measure over the past five years. Suddenly they are talking about brands, new management and board changes ... but it's too late."

Leisure analysts believe that Forte will have to devise a radical defence plan to beat Granada, even though the City believes that the television company has not yet put a high enough offer on the table.

Forte's five-year financial record displays several recessionary scars. Profits have been up and down like a yo-yo, and shareholders suffered a dividend cut three years ago and no increase since.

In contrast, Granada has grown profits in each of the past four years following the dive into the red in 1990/91, when the group suffered losses of pounds 110m. The dividend has consistently improved, and last week the total for the 1994/95 year was lifted 17.5 per cent to 11.75p.

Shareholders will not be alone in sharing in Granada's trading improvements. Advisers will collect pounds 70m in bid fees.

Five year trading performance

Forte

Year 1994/95 1993/94 1992/93 1991/92 1990/91

pounds m pounds m pounds m pounds m pounds m

Turnover 1,789 2,106 2,721 2,662 2,641

Pre-tax profits 127 111 153 49 176

Net borrowings 1,577 1,664 1,722 1,704 1,436

Shareholders' funds 2,462 2,352 2,718 3,020 3,052

Earnings per share 10.1p 9.0p 12.7p 3.0p 17.2p

Dividends per share 7.5p 7.5p 7.5p 9.91p 9.91p

Granada

Year 1994/95 1993/94 1992/93 1991/92 1990/91

pounds m pounds m pounds m pounds m pounds m

Turnover 2,381 2,098 1,615 1,340 1,364

Pre-tax profits 351 265 176 115 (110 loss)

Net borrowings 342 293 402 219 262

Shareholders' funds 584 502 464 562 528

Earnings per share 39.1p 32.0p 24.8p 15.9p (28.8p)

Dividends per share 11.75p 10.0p 8.75p 7.7p 7.0p

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent