* Accor holds AGM on April 25 at 0900 GMT
* Role of activist shareholders in focus at meeting
* Unions worry over future strategy, call for protests at
* Appac shareholders association calls for AGM boycott
* Accor shares down 2 pct, Exane, Raymond James downgrade
By Dominique Vidalon and Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS, April 24 Accor will face
investor and union anger over the influence of the hotel group's
activist shareholders at its annual meeting on Thursday, two
days after it bowed to pressure from them to sack its chairman
and chief executive.
Europe's largest hotel group ousted Denis Hennequin on
Tuesday and replaced him with a transition team - which includes
Sebastien Bazin, the head of one activist investor, Colony
Europe - in a disagreement over how quickly he was selling off
assets to boost returns.
Hennequin is the third chief executive to be ousted from
Accor, the world's fourth-largest hotelier, since U.S. firm
Colony Capital invested in the group in 2005.
Private equity firm Eurazeo SA joined Colony at
Accor in 2008 and together they own a combined 21.4 percent of
the capital and command four board seats.
"We think it's shocking to sack a chief executive two days
before a shareholders meeting where he was supposed to present
the group's results. It creates a crisis situation," said Didier
Cornardeau, the head of small shareholders association Appac.
"These two shareholders (Colony-Eurazeo) only look for quick
returns while a CEO needs time for his project. So we ask our
members to boycott the meeting in support of the CEO," he added.
Colony and Eurazeo declined to comment.
Sources have said the stakeholders were losing patience with
the weak performance of Accor shares - down nearly 5 percent
this year - and wanted to speed up asset sales and franchising
to boost returns for investors.
Meanwhile, unions worry that Accor could toughen its
restructuring in the wake of Hennequin's ouster.
The CFDT union called for workers to hold a protest in front
of the AGM that will be held at Accor's Novotel hotel near
Paris's Eiffel Tower, while the Force Ouvriere union asked Accor
staff to stop work for 15 minutes when the meeting starts at
"What will be the group's strategy? Is Hennequin's ouster a
signal that the group could be quickly dismantled?" said Gilles
d'Arondel, Secretary General of Force Ouvriere at Accor.
Several brokerages, including Raymond James and Exane BNP,
downgraded Accor, saying the management changes could disrupt
the group's turnaround.
Shares in Accor, which competes with global rivals
InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, Marriott
International Inc and Starwood, fell 2 percent,
leading losers on the CAC-40.
Colony, which is also a major shareholder at Carrefour
, unsuccessfully pushed for a similar move at Europe's
"The next move could be a real estate demerger, under which
we see limited incremental value creation compared to
(Hennequin's) 2016 plan and substantial uncertainties," Exane
A source close to the company said that such as plan was
"not on the agenda and had not been discussed by the board".
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Louise Heavens)