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Market report: Coral goes to equity firm Charterhouse.

Betting shop group Coral Eurobet is being sold to private equity firm Charterhouse Development Capital for pounds 860 million in a deal which ends months of speculation about the chain.

The group, which has 870 UK betting shops and owns greyhound stadiums in Romford and Hove, is being sold by Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.

MGPE has owned the 76-yearold group, based in Barking in Essex, since February 1999.

The deal ends months of speculation about who would buy Coral.

Ladbrokes, Britain's largest betting shop chain, was earlier this year tipped to bid for Coral while gaming groups Rank and Stanley Leisure had also been touted as possible parties interested in the shops.

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

Management are also buying into the firm. Bob Scott, Coral's chief executive, will step down on completion of the deal but will be replaced by managing director Vaughn Ashdown.

Mr Scott 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.'

Mr Ashdown said: 'This deal provides an ideal platform from which we can exploit the anticipated growth in betting and gaming both in the UK and internationally.'

The private equity firm bought Coral from Ladbroke nearly four years ago for pounds 390 million.

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

Charterhouse chief executive Gordon Bonnyman said: 'We very much look forward to working with Vaughn and his team.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 3, 2002
Words:285
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