Capital defends director's dealings

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Capital Corporation, the London casinos group which has just gone through a big management upheaval, looks set to run into further controversy following the disclosure that John Dunkley, a executive director, made pounds 320,000 from an option deal in June. The company notified the Stock Exchange yesterday that Mr Dunkley had sold 333,196 shares at 186p each on 26 June, the day after he had exercised the same number of "management warrants" - equivalent to options - at 90p each.

Capital is in the midst of an inquiry being conducted by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission following the pounds 192m hostile bid from the rival London Clubs International group earlier this year. The 47 for 100 all- paper offer would today be worth 175p a share, with London Clubs up 2.5p at 373p yesterday, had it not lapsed following the announcement of the MMC investigation. Capital's shares were up 1p to 183.5p yesterday.

Capital revealed two months ago that its chairman, Garry Nesbitt, was stepping down to be replaced by Ernest Sharp, a former director of Grand Metropolitan. Mr Nesbitt was the target of criticism over the company's poor management controls, most notably over wine purchasing. Some of the sharpest attacks were said to have come from Kenneth Thompson, a former director of Royal Bank of Scotland and Glaxo, who was Capital's acting chief executive for a spell last year. He also stepped down as a non-executive director in May.

A spokesman yesterday defended the share sale by Mr Dunkley, who is said to be considering a property purchase, pointing out that the bid and the impending interim results announcement had reduced the opportunities for transactions.