Ladbroke Group seeks to save pounds 20m in ACT

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The Independent Online
LADBROKE Group hopes to save about pounds 19.5m in advance corporation tax by following the controversial move of RTZ and offering shareholders a share alternative to the final dividend. ACT is not payable on scrips.

The enhanced offer enables shareholders to receive new ordinary shares to the value of 9.345p for every ordinary share, 50 per cent more than the cash value of the 6.23p proposed final dividend announced on 4 March.

The shares went ex-dividend on 29 March. A spokesman played down fears that yesterday's offer would anger shareholders who bought their shares after that and so cannot participate.

'Obviously it's an issue but we took advice from our brokers and they didn't seem to think it would be a problem,' he said. 'It will benefit the company more in the long run.'

Ladbroke said that if the offer was fully taken up, its issued share capital would rise by about 5 per cent - based on the market price of the shares, which closed at 176p - with gearing falling by a similar amount.

Its joint brokers, SG Warburg and Smith New Court, have agreed to buy any new shares for 8.8p, representing a discount of 5 per cent on the price.