End of an era as Forte loses takeover battle




The mighty Forte dynasty yesterday conceded defeat in one of the most fiercely fought takeover battles ever, succumbing to a pounds 3.8bn hostile bid from Granada, the television and leisure company.

The news that Forte's shareholders had overwhelmingly accepted Granada's terms was met with bitter disappointment in the Forte camp, particularly by Sir Rocco Forte, his father, Lord Forte, and his sister, Olga Polizzi, the principal family shareholders.

Sir Rocco, 51, head of the hotel and catering empire built up by his father and grandfather, forced an almost continuous 10-minute smile on to his face to hide his disappointment.

In a shaky voice, he said: "We delivered a lot of value for our shareholders. We did a very good job in defending this company and I am only sorry for the people in the business who have helped take it forward."

The Forte family members will receive pounds 300m if they tender their shares to Granada, which observers last night predicted. "There is no point now in hanging on," a senior City analyst said. "They have lost."

The Forte family is expected to relaunch a family-run hotels company, possibly by purchasing some of the hotels being sold by Granada. At the end of yesterday's press conference Sir Rocco said: "I'll be back."

Granada's chief executive, Gerry Robinson, said he was delighted with the outcome of the two-month battle. "I won and lost this bid so many times in my heart," he said. However, Sir Rocco, describing the fight between Granada's cost-cutting management and his family-led team, said: "This was a battle between two opposing philosophies. We have lost the bid, but I do not believe we have lost the argument."

Granada has won control of Forte's chain of luxury hotels, including a stake in the Savoy Group of hotels and restaurants, as well as the Happy Eater and Little Chef roadside catering businesses and the Travelodge budget-hotel chain.

Granada intends to sell assets worth pounds 2bn, to pay for the bid and focus the new business on roadside restaurants and on budget and mid-market hotels. A stake in the Savoy Group will be sold, as will the Meridien and Exclusive hotel chains.

Granada intends to keep the 430 Happy Eater and Little Chef restaurants, of which almost 100 will be transformed into fast-food outlets, featuring brand names such as Burger King. Mr Robinson promised that job losses would not top 1,000, and said he intended to meet Sir Rocco and other senior managers today.

Mr Robinson paid tribute to Forte's defence. "It was pretty sparkling, and if anyone thought Forte was going to say 'here you are,' they were wrong."

But Granada's bid swayed institutional shareholders looking to lock in profits and willing to bet Mr Robinson could provide profits. It relied particularly on support from Mercury Asset Management, which held a vital 14 per cent of Forte.

Rocco lost everything, page 3

MAM clinches deal, page16

City Comment, page 17

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home