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Bookmaker William Hill Considering a Takeover Bid for Rank

December 3, 2006, well-known bookmaker, William Hill made public their intention of making a takeover bid for Rank, a leisure and gaming group in the U.K., which is seriously considering selling their Hard Rock Chain for an estimated 500 million pounds.

Aside from William Hill, fellow bookmaker, Ladbrokes and other American based companies are considering a bid for Rank. Market analysts speculate that an intense bidding war for Rank could erupt for a matter of weeks. On Friday, December 1, 2006, Rank said that Fidelity, a U.S. based investment company had already built up an 11% share in the company just before the trading update released that week, which was expected to state the progress of finding a company for Hard Rock.

Sources are divided on whether Rank could be sold entirely, or whether the prospective companies that want to bid on the company will wait until Hard Rock is sold. One analyst said that a U.S. company like Harrah could buy the whole company, but bookmakers in Britain, like William Hill and Ladbrokes, could wait until Hard Rock is sold. Rank is in the process of selling its business interests that have no connection with gaming since the company is currently focusing their attention on their casino and bingo operation.

Rank CEO Ian Burke previously announced that their advisers were looking for buyers for Hard Rock last summer. Rank owned Mecca Bingo, Britain's second largest bingo enterprise after Gala Bingo, is going through a rocky period as competitors expand their business interests and online gambling sites grow in popularity due to the smoking ban. Though company sources said that Burke is hoping to increase their cash reserves, an offer of hard cash from an investor would be hard to resist.


Sunday, December 17, 2006
Karen Jacobs

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