Wembley adjourns AGM after Kerzner bid

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The Independent Online

Wembley, the controversial gaming group at the centre of a takeover battle, yesterday opened the door to a £278m bid from Sol Kerzner by postponing a shareholder vote on an agreed offer from MGM Mirage.

Wembley, the controversial gaming group at the centre of a takeover battle, yesterday opened the door to a £278m bid from Sol Kerzner by postponing a shareholder vote on an agreed offer from MGM Mirage.

Investors were due to meet next Thursday to decide whether to back MGM's £270m offer, until Mr Kerzner's BLB Investors consortium launched an 800p-per-share offer earlier this week.

Wembley said that in light of BLB's offer, its board had "unanimously" decided that it would be "appropriate to adjourn" the shareholder meetings. The group's annual meeting, also due to take place next Thursday, will go ahead, it said.

Analysts said the next move would have to come from MGM, which provoked the ire of the City takeover watchdog on Tuesday when it said it was "considering" raising its offer. MGM later backtracked, saying there was "no certainty" that it would re-bid, but is still mulling its options.

Kerzner International, which teamed up with the US property investment firm Starwood Capital and Waterford Group - a US casino developer - to launch its bid, and MGM are arch rivals in the lucrative US market, and whoever winds up with Wembley will have scored a significant victory.

The ultimate prize could be priceless because the deal would catapult the victor into a number of prime sites in the UK's soon-to-be deregulated gaming market. In addition, Wembley owns a Rhode Island-based racetrack and casino, which provides more than 90 per cent of the group's profits.

MGM's bid includes the possibility of a £4m bonus for shareholders if Wembley manages to beat a US court case in which it is alleged that Wembley executives committed bribery.

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