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GAMBLING: Management buyout is a good bet for Coral team.

BETTING shop group Coral Eurobet has been bought by its management in a pounds 860m deal backed by private equity firm Charterhouse Development Capital.

The acquisition, which ends months of speculation, was led by managing director Vaughn Ashdown. Mr Ashdown, who is taking over as chief executive said: ``It is the perfect start to a new venture.''

The team is buying Coral, with its 870 UK betting shops and greyhound stadiums in Romford and Hove, from Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.

MGPE director Jonathan DerryEvans said the group had been a ``successful investment''.

The private equity house, which has owned the 76-year-old group since February 1999, is making a handsome profit on the deal - it bought Coral from Ladbroke for pounds 390m.

Ladbrokes itself bought the chain from Bass for pounds 363m in 1997 but the deal was blocked by competition authorities and Ladbrokes had to sell the business.

Following the deal four years ago, Ladbrokes had been tipped to bid for Coral while gaming groups Rank and Stanley Leisure were also touted as possible buyers.

The deal, which is conditional on European Commission competition clearance, is expected to be formerly completed in September.

Bob Scott, Coral's outgoing chief executive, said: ``Coral Eurobet has enjoyed tremendous success under MGPE's ownership. I am delighted that the company is being acquired by Coral Eurobet's management with the backing of Charterhouse Development Capital.''

Charterhouse chief executive Gordon Bonnyman said: ``We have a long standing reputation for buying industry-leading businesses in partnership with management teams that can unlock long-term growth. We very much look forward to working with Vaughn and his team.''

Coral is based in Barking in Essex and employs around 4,500 staff.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 3, 2002
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