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Hills board set to prove a winner.

WILLIAM HILL will unveil an impressive team of non-executive directors-all with a strong interest in horseracing and/or betting-when the company's Stock Market flotation moves up a gear today.

The flotation prospectus, prepared by brokers Warburg Dillon Read and running to more than 150 pages, is due for release within the next 24 hours.

It will reveal a board on which Unigate chairman Ian Martin, whose appointment was made known at the time of last month's original announcement by parent company Nomura, is joined by former Deloitte Touche partner Michael Blackburn, W H Smith finance director Keith Hamill and Cordiant Communication chairman Charles Scott.

City sources suggest support among the major finance houses-already favourably disposed to a deal expected to raise pounds 900 million-will be strengthened by the combination of four such powerful reputations. With 10 per cent of shares set aside for the public, the quartet's intimate knowledge of racing and betting will be seen as a bonus.

Chairman Martin and sports enthusiast Scott, who lives near Lambourn, are both keen punters and share a common interest as members of ownership syndicates run by Thurloe Thoroughbreds. While Scott was an original Thurloe member in 1995, Martin is a more recent recruit, though their call-up dates meant they missed out on the second syndicate's major wins with Tote Gold Trophy hero Sharpical and Listed winner Nanoushka.

Hamill, finance director at Forte when the hotel group sponsored the Arc but who left on Granada's takeover, is also known to be serious about horseracing.

Blackburn's association with racing has been fostered alongside Hills' chief executive John Brown, with whom he has owned a number of horses in partnership. Among their current ventures is the juvenile hurdler Classic Impact.

The imminent arrival of Hills' prospectus follows a sustained advertising campaign in the two weeks since Nomura decided to float Britain's second- biggest bookmaking chain.

Weekend reports suggested that almost 80,000 inquiries have been made for the document, which will set out Hills' trading position in greater detail than the information normally associated with published accounts.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Wright, Howard
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 1999
Words:343
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