Ladbroke tipped to try its luck with Capital Corp; MARKET REPORT

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The Independent Online
Although the Gold Cup was undoubtedly the main event for many in the stock market there is a suspicion one of the major Cheltenham players is about to place a big bet on the spin of London's roulette wheels.

Ladbroke, the betting and hotel group, edged ahead 4p to 242.5p in busy trading as the rumour strengthened it was preparing to intervene in the pounds 180m takeover battle for Capital Corporation, the Crockford's casino business.

The bookies have admitted they are keeping an eye on Capital since London Clubs International barged in with its hostile bid.

The casino tussle has occurred as Ladbroke is pulling in the cash from winding down its property division and is in a comfortable position to mount a counter-strike.

It already owns four London casinos and has made no secret it hopes to expand its gaming presence in London. Capital shares rose 1p to 205.5p and LCI put on 1.5p to 402.5p.

The rest of the market had a lacklustre session weighed down by New York which in turn was fretting about the possibility of higher US interest rates being announced next week. There was also just a hint that the market is starting to worry about the looming election which it has, surprisingly, so far treated with blissful indifference.

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television was the day's major casualty following Granada's statement it had no current plans to bid. The shares crashed 117.5p to 1,162.5p with the warrants off 122.5p at 957.5p. Granada fell 17p to 956.5p.

The Granada comments came ahead of today's yearly results from United News & Media which has a significant Yorkshire stake and is the biggest holder of the warrants with 34.3 per cent. The warrants, with a 200p exercise price, are running out of time and if United switched it would lift its stake to around 18 per cent.

There is talk United, off 3.5p at 740.5p, intends to accompany today's figures - around pounds 280m is expected - with a strike at Yorkshire and HTV where it has 29.9 per cent.

Enterprise Oil was the best- performing blue chip, up 18.5p to 652p, following results; Lasmo was also caught in the action, gaining 4.5p to 241p.

The failure of any Enterprise bid to appear took the shine off Monument Oil & Gas, down 3p at 82.75p. But another favoured Enterprise target, British Borneo Petroleum Syndicate, quickly recovered an early 127.5p fall, ending the session up 2.5p at 1,425p.

National Westminster Bank fell 5p to 739p as the option scandal losses grew to pounds 90m; some other banks gave ground in sympathy.

Argos, the catalogue stores chain, lost 24p to 640p following its Footsie dismissal and Storehouse gave up 1.5p to 266p as NatWest Securities cut its profit forecasts by pounds 5m to pounds 123m and by pounds 7m to pounds 135m.

But it rates the shares, 18p above their 12-month low, as a buy.

The securities house, however, put a sell sign over Iceland, the frozen food retailer which is indulging in a share buy-back. The shares melted 4.5p to 95p.

De la Rue, the security printer, fell 24p to 592.5p as stockbroker Cazenove was said to have made cautious noises.

Centrica, the gas supply half of the old British Gas, was the day's most busily traded share with the price shading 1.5p to 61p.

A cautious trading statement from Molins, the tobacco machinery group, lowered the shares 70p to 830p and Rentokil Initial continued to suffer from disappointment over its results, falling a further 12.5p to 403p.

Arjo Wiggins Appleton edged ahead 1.5p to 195.5p. BZW thinks the depressed paper sector is due for an uplift and has launched basket warrants on the paper players.

But Shield Diagnostic, the healthcare group, continued to march ahead in front of an investment presentation; the shares surged 87.5p to 805p. They were 150p last month.

Dana Petroleum, forging further links in the former Soviet Union, added 2p to 23.5p and financial services group DBS Management improved 67.5p to 802.5p, anticipating a move from AIM to full listing.

Frost, the garage group which has been squeezed unmercifully in the petrol price war, is due to produce figures next week. Around pounds 13.5m is expected; the shares rose 8p to 126.5p. Micro Focus, the computer group, improved 40p to 1,202.5p. After the market closed it was announced that the former chairman, Brian Reynolds, had sold 275,000 shares and was left with 3.3 per cent.

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