* New management team vows to step up expansion
* Colony's Bazin says wants Accor to be a hotel leader
* New Accor Chairman sees no change in strategy
* Unions fear dismantling, CFDT union holds protest
By Dominique Vidalon and Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS, April 25 Accor's new management
vowed to speed up the hotel group's transformation on Thursday,
as it tried to assuage opposition at the annual meeting to the
influence of its activist shareholders.
Europe's largest hotel group ousted Chairman and Chief
Executive Denis Hennequin on Tuesday and replaced him with a
transitional team that includes Sebastien Bazin, a top executive
at activist investor Colony Capital, which together with private
equity firm Eurazeo SA control 21.4 percent of the
Newly-appointed non-executive chairman Philippe Citerne told
a stormy shareholders' meeting on Thursday that his team would
now move quickly to reduce the number of hotels Accor actually
owns and instead increase its franchising and hotel management
Bazin said he was committed to turning Accor, which has been
expanding in emerging markets, into a global industry leader.
Accor competes with InterContinental Hotels Group Plc
, Marriott International Inc and Starwood Hotels
and Resorts Worldwide.
"We want to accelerate the strategy and for this transition
period not to hurt the company," Bazin later told a news
Accor's shares closed up 2.45 percent at 25.53 euros on
Thursday, having lost over 4 percent over the past two days.
Hennequin is the third chief executive to be ousted from
Accor, the world's fourth-largest hotelier, since Colony Capital
invested in the group in 2005.
Eurazeo joined Colony at Accor in 2008 and together they
command four board seats.
Sources have said the stakeholders were losing patience with
the weak performance of Accor shares - down nearly 7 percent
this year - and wanted to speed up asset sales and franchising
to boost returns for investors.
Two representatives from Accor's Workers Committee told the
annual meeting that Hennequin's ousting was similar to a "coup
d'etat" and thanked him for his "work, independence and great
courage in dealing with investment funds who have no mercy."
The change of management enraged unions, who fear more job
cuts, and it also worried some small shareholders who said that
the constant management changes might be doing the chain more
harm than good.
"Predators !" one shareholder in the audience said of the
Unions also worry that the funds could ultimately break up
Accor to unlock value.
A few dozen CFDT union workers held a protest outside the
meeting on Thursday, giving out leaflets that read: "Three CEOs
in eight years, the human toll from disruption is heavy" and "if
the current policy of breaking the group into parts continues,
we are heading for a disaster and Accor could disappear,"
Accor's current market capitalisation now stands at 5.8
billion euros, little more than that of its former subsidiary
Edenred SA, which was spun off in 2010, with the meal
vouchers company valued at 5.7 billion euros.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)