The Caterer

Founder's nephew is new Accor chief executive

13 October 2005
Founder's nephew is new Accor chief executive

French hotel giant Accor has appointed the nephew of the group's co-founder as its new chief executive following a prolonged boardroom spat.

Gilles Pélisson takes over from Jean-Marc Espalioux, despite the fact that three major shareholders pulled out of the selection process in protest.

The dispute was sparked when headhunting consultancy Russell Reynolds put forward Pierre Danon, then chief operating officer at IT services group Cap Gemini, for the job.

Co-chairmen and founders Gérard Pélisson and Paul Dubrule rejected the suggestion, instead backing Gilles Pélisson, currently chief executive of Bouygues Telecom.

Banks BNP Paribas, Caisse des Depôts and Société Générale, which together own about 10% of Accor, withdrew from the recruitment process in protest. A spokesman for the three said: "The necessary conditions for the smooth execution [of the selection process] were not in place."

On Tuesday (13 October) both sides reached a compromise deal that saw Gilles Pélisson made chief executive and Gérard Pélisson step down as chairman. He was replaced by private equity entrepreneur Serge Weinberg.

Following the leaking of Danon's name, he was sacked from his job at Cap Gemini.

One hotel industry insider said: "Pélisson is clearly a strong candidate, but because he's the nephew of the co-founder everyone leaps to the same conclusion. However, when a headhunter finds a candidate, at great expense, you don't expect a section of the board to reject it."

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