Moto's appointment of former Compass boss Gerry Robinson as its new chairman received a cool reception from the City this week.
The move, which followed the roadside group's £600m sale by Compass to Australian bank Macquarie earlier this month, raised concerns because of Robinson's track record.
One City source said: "He's seen as a bit of a 1980s wheeler-dealer and will no doubt look long and hard at each individual asset." He pointed to Robinson's failed bid for Rentokil Initial last year, which he said was "laughed out of court".
Another analyst suggested Robinson's personal profile might be an issue. "I'm sure he'll be paid a lot of money. It'll be more about Gerry Robinson than the company," he said.
But Moto chief executive Tim Moss, who will stay with the business along with managing director Brian Lotts, was upbeat. He said Robinson's experience of the UK motorway service area industry would help the group "make the transition to a stand-alone business".
Lotts added: "Gerry is a huge name and he'll certainly challenge the norm. Nothing will stay the same."
Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie also welcomed the move. "He brings credibility to the sector and his good relations with Government will help us to change current restrictive regulations and move into the 21st century."
By Tom Bill