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Rocco Forte Hotels Group Holds Critical Talks with
Key Lender in Hopes to Resolve Financial Woes

By Rupert Steiner, Daily Mail, LondonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 04, 2012--Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte is holding crunch talks with a key lender after his upmarket golf and spa resort in Sicily breached loan agreements with its bank.

Trading has been tough at the Verdura resort, which was forced to close temporarily shortly after opening in 2009 due to a lack of bookings.

In accounts filed at Companies House, Rocco Forte & Family warned: "Financial progress with the subsidiary has been slower than required to meet all the conditions of its existing facilities.

"As a result, the long-term financing arrangements relating to Mediterranea [Verdura] are currently being renegotiated with Unicredit."

While the pounds sterling 100m loan to this subsidiary is separate from the pounds sterling 200m Forte borrowed from Lloyds-owned Bank of Scotland for his 12 other upmarket properties, there was a worrying twist.

The accounts state that if a deal cannot be struck with Unicredit this could trigger a clause within the Bank of Scotland loans in which it could call in repayment of the pounds sterling 200m.

But Forte said discussions with Unicredit were going well and that he was also in talks with an unnamed third party who could take a strategic stake in Verdura.

Sir Rocco said: "In an annual report you have to paint an Armageddon scenario that just is not going to happen. I am completely relaxed that we can resolve the situation in a number of ways and that it is not going to be a problem at all."

The privately-owned chain of 13 luxury hotels saw progress in trading over the year to April 30, 2011.

It said a move to online marketing and an improvement in the economy helped shrink the pre-tax loss to pounds sterling 9.6m from pounds sterling 24.9m.

Sales increased to pounds sterling 148.6m from pounds sterling 130m and managing director Richard Power said over the past 10 months to February revenues were up 6pc and profit 13pc.


(c)2012 the Daily Mail (London, )

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