Accor announces shakeup over 'strategic divergences'
French hotel group Accor disclosed on Wednesday that "strategic divergences" had emerged between the board of directors and the chief executive, prompting his replacement by the head of McDonald's Europe.
Accor said in a statement that the board and chief executive Gilles Pelisson at a meeting Tuesday had "recognised the strategic divergences between them, leading them to organise the departure of Gilles Pelisson as of January 15, 2011."
He will be replaced by Denis Hennequin, chairman and chief executive of McDonald's Europe and who has been a director at Accor since 2009.
McDonald's Europe operates 20 percent of the total number of restaurants controlled by the US fast food chain and is responsible for 40 percent of the group's sales.
Last July, Accor separated its services and hotels business, a move advocated by leading shareholders but initially opposed by Pelisson, who had headed Accor for the past five years.
"Mr. Hennequin is not coming to pursue a defensive strategy," said a hotel sector analyst who asked not to be named.
"If he's accepted the job it is with the intention of making a splash."
Analysts at CIC bank said that the decision to replace Pelisson was "little justified, given his record at the head of the group."
Under his leadership, assets worth 2.0 billion euros (2.8 billion dollars) were sold and the group's franchise business developed. He is credited with getting the group back on a path of growth.
CIC analysts said Pelisson's departure had been sought by the two leading shareholders, Eurazeo and Colony Capital, which wanted to step up the franchise operations.
Hennequin, 52, is to assume the post of executive director on December 1 this year.
Pelisson, 53, will continue to act as chairman of the board in a non-executive capacity until January 15, 2011, when Hennequin will become Accor's chairman and chief executive officer.
© 2010 AFP