Granada to auction hotels as Accor pulls out

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The Independent Online

Granada Compass, the leisure group, yesterday said it was putting its hotels up for auction in a move that will lead to the final break-up of the former Forte empire. The decision came as Accor, the French hotelier, pulled out of negotiations to buy the whole division after talks broke down over price.

Granada Compass, the leisure group, yesterday said it was putting its hotels up for auction in a move that will lead to the final break-up of the former Forte empire. The decision came as Accor, the French hotelier, pulled out of negotiations to buy the whole division after talks broke down over price.

Granada Compass said it had started a formal disposal process "in the light of the strength of interest shown in the business". It is selling its Forte division, which includes the le Meridien, Posthouse and Heritage hotel brands and the London Signature hotels. The sale will include the London Waldorf.

In a statement Accor, which last week revealed it was in talks with Granada Compass, said it had decided a major acquisition was "not indispensable".

"Accor and Granada Compass have conducted discussions concerning the future of Forte hotel division," it said. "The ... discussions have not led to a satisfactory agreement." It is understood negotiations broke down over the price, with the French group unwilling to pay the £3bn price tag.

The Granada Compass spokesman said the company was open to offers for the whole estate and for separate bids for the individual brands. Industry sources said a sale of individual brands would generate a higher price than a one-off sale of the Forte group. One said it could raise as much as £4bn.

Analysts said Hilton, Marriott, Bass and possibly venture capital groups would head a shortlist. Granada Compass is retaining the budget Travelodge hotels and Little Chef restaurants.

The news of Accor backing out of talks came after the London market closed, leaving Granada Compass shares up 3.5p at 607.5p

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