Savoy keeps quiet over chairmanship issue

THE CITY was left guessing about the intensity of discussions over changes of leadership at the Savoy hotel group's board meeting yesterday, writes John Shepherd.

Investors had anticipated a debate between the company and Forte, its old adversary and main shareholder, over a successor to Sir Anthony Tuke, who is expected to retire soon as chairman of the Savoy.

'It was a very good meeting. There is no change in the chairman or managing director, but we did have a good discussion on it,' Giles Shepard, managing director of the Savoy, said.

Rocco Forte and Donald Main, respectively chairman and finance director of Forte, were expected to use their positions on Savoy's board to oppose a move that would elevate Mr Shepard from managing director to chairman. They were also expected to oppose a move to elect John Kemp-Welch, joint senior partner at Cazenove, the stockbroker, as chairman.

Forte was as secretive as the Savoy about yesterday's discussions.

'It was their board meeting,' the company said. 'The chairmanship was not discussed in any great detail.'

While there appear to be differences over the choice of a chairman, both sides are understood to be agreed on a chief executive. He is Willi Bauer, chief executive of Wentworth Golf Club and former general manager of the Savoy.

He was approached in the summer about leading the Forte Exclusive chain of hotels, which includes the George V in Paris and the Hyde Park in London. Mr Bauer turned down the offer.

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