Desmond Taljaard, group development director at Whitbread, has resigned from the leisure group, The Times newspaper reports. Taljaard, who joined Whitbread in November 2004, is thought to be in talks with several backers regarding the establishment of a venture to invest in leisure property opportunities across Europe. Before joining Whitbread, Taljaard held senior positions with J Sainsbury, the supermarket group, and Hilton, the hotels organisation.