Bidders ready to dance

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The Independent Online
SPRINGWOOD, the leisure group chaired by Adam Page, has emerged as favourite to buy rival Allied Leisure's nightclubs division, writes Dan Gledhill.

Allied, whose clubs include the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, is looking to dispose of the division to focus on its bowling alleys. Industry sources are tipping Mr Page - who used to run some of the clubs for Midsummer Inns - to launch a bid. It is understood that Springwood has made enquiries, as have Luminar, Po Na Na and Northern Leisure. The clubs may be sold to a combination of these parties.

Midsummer, originally the commercial arm of the Campaign for Real Ale, went on to sell the clubs to European Lei-sure, which merged earlier this year with Allied. Mr Page then founded Springwood by reversing into JO Walker, a timber merchant. It now has about 20 venues and is hungry for more.

Allied is likely to complete the disposal after a glut of clubs on the market have been sold on. An announcement that First Leisure will sell its clubs to a management team backed by Candover, the venture capitalist, is expected shortly. Nick Irens, chairman of Cannons, the fitness club operator, is likely to chair the new company. But Rank's attempts to sell its clubs to Northern Leisure are said to be proceeding more slowly.

Allied recently expanded its stock of bowling alleys with the acquisition of First Leisure's family entertainments division.