Capital Corp delays results date

John Willcock

Capital Corporation, the casino group defending itself against a pounds 191m hostile takeover bid from the London Clubs International (LCI), is postponing next Tuesday's scheduled announcement of 1996 results until the bidder produces a formal offer document.

"We intend to publish our defence document with our results, and we have 14 days to prepare the defence from the time we receive LCI's offer document," a Capital spokesman said yesterday.

The spokesman said that there had been "a deafening silence" from LCI since it launched its 47-for-100 all-shares bid 11 days ago. An LCI spokesman responded that "the timing of the offer document is a sensitive decision and not one we can comment on".

Both companies refused to comment on market speculation that Ladbroke, which announces its 1996 results next Thursday, was in talks with either party. Rank has also been mentioned as a possible bidder for Capital.

LCI has three weeks from after making its bid before it has to produce the offer document.

Capital's shares closed down 6p at 205p yesterday while LCI added 0.5p to 379p.

One analyst commented: "Capital's price says the market is looking for a higher bid, perhaps with a bit of cash. It looks like a straight argument over price. Mercury Asset Management (MAM) owns 17 per cent in both companies, so they'll have a big say in it."

Capital's price was languishing at 155p before LCI's announcement, following a profit warning a month ago that profits would fall to around pounds 8.75m from pounds 13m. Capital incurred pounds 3.5m costs due to closure of the Colony Club last year for a pounds 6.5m refurbishment.

Capital, led by its chairman Gary Nesbitt, has also suffered several embarrassments over the past year. Last summer half a dozen croupiers were fired and a customer barred from their casinos after a fixing ring was discovered. In another incident, Hambros, the company's advisers, called in accountants from Price Waterhouse to investigate discrepancies in Capital's wine purchases, going back before 1993, when the company floated.

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