Savoy directors resign from trusts

TWO directors of the Savoy hotel group have ended the possibility of a serious conflict of interests by resigning as trustees of the powerful D'Oyly Carte and Savoy Educational trusts, writes John Shepherd.

Rowland Leigh, finance director of the Savoy, said: 'Given the current scenario it was felt best that they did not wear two hats. But there is nothing sinister in it.'

He added that their resignations had been on the cards for some time, and the timing of the announcement, given the recent boardroom turmoil, was purely coincidental.

The directors are Martin Radcliffe, who on Tuesday was appointed acting managing director following the ousting of Giles Shepard, and John Sinclair.

With several other trustees, they presided over 44 per cent of the high-voting 'B' shares and 8.3 per cent of the 'A'. Jane Thorn, an employee of the Savoy, has also resigned as a trustee of the D'Oyly Carte trust.

The voting power of the trusts has been used in recent years to scupper the takeover aspirations of the rival Forte hotel company. Forte controls only 42 per cent of the votes, despite owning more than 60 per cent of Savoy's shares.

Savoy also released results for the first six months of this year, showing it had benefitted from the sharp increase in number of tourists visiting London. Occupancy levels across the group, which includes Claridge's and the Berkeley, rose from 56 to 61 per cent.

Overall, turnover rose from pounds 37.8m to pounds 42.85m and losses of pounds 1.75m were turned into pre-tax profits of pounds 575,000. The result would have been better but for an additional pounds 350,000 insurance premium to cover terrorisim.

The interim dividend on the 'A' shares has been cut from 4p to 1.3p and on the 'B' from 2p to 0.6p.