Six Continents Takes a Swipe Back at Osmond

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN;JIM ARMITAGE

HUGH Osmond, the entrepreneur who branded managers of the Six Continents leisure empire "poor operators", has a long track record of working closely with the company's pubs team and, it is claimed, once tried to poach a senior executive.

Six Continents' advisers say Osmond, who has lambasted the track record of chief executive Tim Clarke, is guilty of double standards. They claim Osmond's Punch Taverns relied heavily on the team, then running the pubs business for Six Continents' forerunner Bass, when the two companies linked up to bid successfully for Allied Domecq's pubs estate in 1999.

One said: "Some of the key operators were seconded in after Punch bought the Allied managed estate." He went on to claim Osmond had tried to recruit Mike Bramley, who now runs Six Continents' pubs division under Clarke.

"That partnership was pretty key to the ultimate success of the Punch offer," he said.

The advisers also claim Osmond, who has made a u5.6 billion hostile bid for the pubs and hotels giant, made an approach to the board last October about a pubs partnership that would have retained the incumbent management.

"Under Osmond's proposition, it was anticipated the existing management would run the operating company," one said. However, claims of hypocrisy were swiftly rejected by the Osmond camp.

One member said it was not surprising the issue of new management had not been discussed in October. …