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Prince of Darkness must see the light with Coral decision.

THE Prince of Darkness in charge of deciding the Ladbrokes-Coral issue; what a thought! But that's the scenario Prime Minister Blair set up when he made Peter Mandelson, Dr Spin himself, president of the Board of Trade in this week's Cabinet whip-round.

It cannot be stressed too strongly that the decision will have far wider repercussions than just numbers on a balance sheet, whatever the rights and wrongs of the strict competition argument.

And it cannot be said too forcefully that if the deal were to be blocked in total, the Tote could not afford to buy Coral lock, stock and barrel. No two ways about it, whatever some vocal observers might say.

In fact, a total block would result in the Tote's losing the lot.

Not only would the opportunity to buy more betting shops disappear at a stroke, but the 133 they took from Ladbrokes, which include 51 under the parent company's banner, would go straight back.

Think about that, Mr Mandelson, and see what spin you can put on it.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 31, 1998
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