Trouble-shooter for Queens Moat: Company's bankers appoint former Sale Tilney chief as consultant

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The Independent Online
QUEENS Moat Houses, the troubled hotel group, has distanced itself from David Hersey, its finance director, who was suspended from his duties just over a week ago.

Andrew Coppel, formerly finance director at Ratners and ex-chief executive at Sale Tilney, was yesterday appointed as a consultant to create 'an appropriate financial and management reporting structure'.

A banking source close to Queens Moat, one of Europe's largest hotel operators, believes 'the financial controls are not good enough.

'It is fair to say the company's present financial predicament is due in a large measure to the breakdown in financial reporting systems.'

One hotel industry analyst added that the move almost certainly 'ruled out' a return by Mr Hersey. He was suspended along with Martin Marcus, deputy managing director, two days after dealings in the company's shares were suspended at 47.5p.

A banker close to Queens Moat said other appointments may be made, although 'Coppel was the important one for the time being'.

He declined to comment on whether Bird & Luckin, the company's auditors, would soon be replaced. 'A decision must wait upon the report of Grant Thornton,' he said.

Grant Thornton, the chartered accountancy firm, was drafted in two weeks ago to investigate Queens Moat's problems. Losses of pounds 80m are understood to have been made last year, which compares with analysts' expectations only last month of pounds 85m profits.

The decision to appoint Mr Coppel was taken over the weekend by Barclays, National Westminster and Charterhouse, main bankers to Queens Moat. Mr Coppel moved into the company's head office in Romford, Essex, yesterday morning.

Mr Coppel, 42, is a qualified accountant and spent nine years with Morgan Grenfell, the merchant bank, until 1986 when he joined Ratners, the jewellery company. He left Ratners in 1990 to try to save Sale Tilney, the mini-conglomerate. Sale recently went into receivership after its banks failed to reach a unanimous decision on the terms of a refinancing.

Mr Coppel is also credited with 'a number of detailed international financings'. They include a pounds 75m multi-option facility and a pounds 44m eurobond while he was at Ratners in 1987.

(Photograph omitted)

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