Shareholders resist Park Lane Hotel sale

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The Independent Online
AGGRIEVED shareholders in the luxury Park Lane Hotel are to demand an extraordinary general meeting to fight its proposed pounds 44.5m sale to ITT-Sheraton, the US hotels group.

John Hanson, a descendant of the original founders and beneficiary of a family trust which owns 3.1 per cent of the shares, has emerged as a focus for dissent. He claims to represent 10 per cent of the shares, enough to requisition an EGM. However, ITT-Sheraton has gained the acceptance of 72 per cent of shareholders in irrevocable undertakings for the deal, announced on Thursday.

Mr Hanson criticises Clive Carr, the chairman and chief executive of the Park Lane and also a director of Arsenal Football Club. As well as his own apartment at the hotel, Mr Carr received a salary of pounds 244,000 in 1994, topped up by a pounds 260,000 pension payment - equivalent, in total, to 35 per cent of net profits of pounds 1.428m. Figures for 1995 have yet to be released.

Separately, the Takeover Panel is examining an attempt by stockbroker Walker, Crips, Weddle, Beck last September to buy up shares at pounds 7 each. ITT-Sheraton's offer is pitched at pounds 11 a share.

The Park Lane was built in the 1920s by a Yorkshire family, the Bracewell- Smiths, who once also owned the Ritz. Ownership has been handed down over the generations. Mr Carr and linked family trusts account for some 20 per cent of the shares.

Mr Hanson believes the hotel could have generated profits 50 per cent higher over the past few years. They have averaged pounds 1.2m from 1990 to 1994.

A Park Lane spokesman said: "Mr Hanson has an axe to grind, but there is no evidence whatsoever that another, higher, offer is out there. The company has been advised at every step by Samuel Montagu, and management believes this is the best deal for shareholders." He pointed to the fact that Elliott Bernerd's property company, Chelsfield, dropped out of talks late last year after an offer, rumoured to be for pounds 50m, was broached.