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City Slickers: Wembillionaire; Joe set to score a pounds 200m winner.

INTERNATIONAL soccer club owner Enic is preparing a pounds 200 million formal offer for the owner of Wembley Stadium.

Slicker can confirm that Enic, funded by Bahamas-based billionaire Joe Lewis, will make the offer for Wembley PLC within the next few days.

The publicly-quoted investment trust has widespread interests in European soccer clubs, including Glasgow Rangers, and controlling stakes in Italy's Vicenza, Czech side Slavia Prague and AEK Athens of Greece. It also recently tried to buy Tottenham Hotspur.

Wembley PLC's shares rocketed by more than 17 per cent to 366p yesterday as bid speculation grew. Wembley is now valued at pounds 200 million. Slicker understands that Enic will make a bid at around 380p a share.

"It will be an agreed bid and it won't go hostile," said one source.

Enic already has a 4 per cent holding in Wembley. The bid comes at a time when the sale of Wembley Stadium is being finalised. The stadium, built in the 1920s, is due to be sold to the English National Stadium Development Company for pounds 103 million. This deal is still to be rubber- stamped by shareholders.

Speculation is bound to grow over whether Enic will save the stadium's famous twin towers.

Other profitable parts of the group include an indoor arena and conference centre. Wembley also operates tracks in the US and the Keith Prowse ticketing and hospitality business.

Slicker says: We've rate the management of Enic - especially chairman Howard Stanton - as some of the best in Britain. The sale of Wembley Stadium to the English National Stadium Development Company should go ahead. It can then be properly redeveloped, using funds from the Lottery.

Wembley Group has lurched from crisis to crisis recently, but Enic and its team could really turn things round. At anything below pounds 300 million, it's an absolute bargain.

Enic shares, 123.5p last night, are cheap. Get in quick this morning if you can.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Hipwell, James; Bhoyrul, Anil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 8, 1999
Words:321
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