Malaysian firm buys casinos group

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Malaysian gambling firm Genting International today struck a multi-million takeover deal with UK casino operator Stanley Leisure.

Genting agreed to pay 860p a share for Stanley Leisure and its 45 casinos, which values the company at £639 million.

The deal came after Stanley Leisure chairman Lord Leonard Steinberg agreed to sell his holding of almost 11% to Genting for £64.3 million.

It took Genting's overall share of Stanley Leisure to 30.5% - forcing it to make a bid for the rest of the company under takeover rules.

The proposed takeover of Liverpool-based Stanley Leisure came just days after Las Vegas gaming giant Harrah's Entertainment agreed to pay £280 million for London Clubs International.

It was thought Harrah's, the largest gambling company in the world, could also make a move for Stanley Leisure.

Stanley Leisure owns Crockfords, The Colony Club, The Mint and The Palm Beach in London as well as 41 sites in cities such as Bristol, Liverpool and Birmingham.

Consolidation of the industry has been on the cards in the UK since the shake-up of gaming laws paved the way for international operators to run new supercasinos proposed by the Government.

Genting, which already owns around 20% of the Stanley Leisure, today said it bought a stake of 5.3% from Lord Steinberg. It said it had also agreed terms for another 5.3%, taking its overall holding to 30.5%.

Once a shareholder owns 30% of a company a full takeover bid must be made.

Genting agreed to pay 860p a share for Stanley Leisure which was 42% higher than the 605.5p share price a month ago and 26% higher than the 680.5p before the offer was made on September 2.

Stanley Leisure chief executive Bob Wiper said the deal "represents fair value and provides appropriate certainty for our shareholders".

Genting chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay added: "We are delighted that the board of Stanley is recommending this offer and look forward to Stanley joining Genting to create an even stronger base for its future in the UK and the rest of Europe."

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