Accor's chairman and five directors have quit the board of the French hotel giant, in protest at the decision to unite the roles of chairman and chief executive.
Current Accor chief executive Gilles Pelisson will now become chairman of the group, replacing Serge Weinberg, the former non-executive chairman who has quit.
The directors that have followed Weinberg out the door comprise Baudouin Prot, Aldo Cardoso, Isabelle Bouillot, Roderic Lyne and Augustin de Romanet.
In a statement Weinberg said he and the other former directors were unable to carry out their duties after the group's main shareholders, US private equity firm Colony Capital and French investment fund Eurazeo, moved to unite Accor's top roles.
Weinberg also criticized Colony and Eurazeo, which jointly hold a 30.1% stake in Accor, for having "elevated debt levels" within the company and making decisions that weren't necessarily in the interest of other shareholders.
Although combining the roles of chief executive and chairman is common in France, the outgoing directors feared a single executive chairman would be less able to resist pressure bought to bear in the boardroom by Colony and Eurazeo.
Earlier this week the hotel group revealed a pre-tax profit for 2008 of €870m (£774m), compared with €907m (£807m) a year ago.
Weinberg was elected chairman in January 2006 after creditor banks, including BNP and some shareholders, resisted efforts by Gerard Pelisson, the current chief executive's uncle and a founder of Accor, to install his nephew as the sole head of the company.
By Gemma Sharkey
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