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September 4: That didn’t take long: just two working days since Harrah’s Entertainment bid for London Clubs International, Stanley Leisure announced it has received a takeover approach as well. Our leisure industries correspondent, Roger Blitz, has his money on Genting being the bidder. Neither Stanley nor Genting are saying anything yet but the Malaysian group already has almost 20 per cent of Stanley and had hoped to combine it with LCI, in which it had about 30 per cent. Harrah’s spoilt that plan on Thursday and it now looks as if Genting may have decided not to let itself get outmanoeuvred a second time. Rank has been rumoured to be interested in Stanley before but we don’t think it is now, not least because chief executive Ian Burke told the Daily Telegraph this morning that he didn’t even look at LCI. Stanley shares, up 20 per cent today, have risen by about a third since Harrah’s bid for LCI, valuing the group at £570m. Stanley owns more than 40 casinos, most of them regional, but it also owns Crockfords in London.
Any of you who came back from the weekend, as I did, to find their computer passwords and email no longer worked will be delighted with plans from DSG International, the retailer formerly known as Dixons, to launch a technical support helpline. The country is full of people who think broadband is something tennis players use to keep the sweat out of their eyes. What’s more, for a group which has made a mess of its branding recently, DSG has come up with a simple and memorable name: The TechGuys. Maybe that’s because DSG wasn’t the first to think of it: a Tech Guys already exists in Kansas City. A specialist blog, AV Zombie, adds that the idea is “clearly based on the Geek Squad support network introduced this year by comparable US CE retail chain Best Buy”.
The HBOS-led consortium appeared to clinch victory in the £1.1bn battle for McCarthy & Stone when the rival Barclays-led consortium pulled out of the bidding. The HBOS consortium, which has offered £10.75 a share, includes Sir Tom Hunter and the Reuben brothers. On Friday, they also neutralised the threat from Vincent Tchenguiz.
We’ll also do more on Lloyd’s of London to mark the 10th anniversary of its recovery plan. Today, following on from her great package this morning, our insurance correspondent Andrea Felsted will look at Equitas, which reinsures the market’s pre-1996 liabilities. I know some find Lloyd’s stories a heavy diet but Andrea has done some great work, as will be obvious tomorrow (although illustrating the piece is proving a challenge).
Otherwise, we have a lot of company results to cover. Hammerson is the largest but we also have IMI, Amlin (yes, more Lloyd’s), Intertek and Taylor Nelson Sofres. And I think I counted more than 20 smaller ones.
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