The appointment of Tony Habgood as Whitbread chairman is welcomed by "Inside the City" columnist John Waples in The Sunday Times. He points out that the group has undergone big structural changes since chief executive Alan Parker took over a year ago. Rumours of an approach by a private equity consortium three months ago highlighted that the balance sheet was still under-utilised. Since then shares have inched closer to their sum-of-the-parts valuation of about 1040p and closed last week at 993p, New finance director Christopher Rogers is already carrying out a financial review of the asset-rich company to see how much more debt the balance sheet can take. Meanwhile Parker has doubled the size of the budget hotels operation, which is now the core business, and is extricating Whitbread from the underperforming Marriott chain. But the big issue remains the 56-strong chain of David Lloyd fitness centres, along with the under-performing restaurant and pub business. Whitbread has struggled to match the profitability of rival operators like Mitchells & Butlers and numerous parties would like to get their hands on is estate. The Sunday Times 14/08/05 (Business) page 3.12