Panel warns Forte

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The Independent Online
Forte and its financial advisers have been warned by the Takeover Panel to take more care over the wording of defence documents. The panel is concerned that the final paragraph on page one of last week's defence document against the pounds 3.3bn bid from Granada was not worded in the usual manner.

A merchant banker, unconnected with the bid, said the wording "came close" to breaching rule 3.1 of the Takeover Code because it did not make entirely clear that the board and its advisers - SBC Warburg, UBS and Morgan Stanley - held the same opinion.

A spokeswoman for the panel said: "I can confirm the wording in the document is unusual. However there is no question that the board and its advisers do not have different opinions. We anticipate more traditional wording in future documents."

Forte yesterday told City analysts that it would raise prices at Travelodge hotels by pounds 2 to pounds 36.50 a night. It added, however, that to raise prices further would lose customers.

Also yesterday, Granada claimed that it could boost Forte's profits by pounds 100m a year. Forte described the claim as rubbish and asked why Granada failed to explain how it would achieve the improvements.

City Diary, page 22.