Rank passes up Trump deal

Rank, the Mecca bingo halls to Butlin's holidays group, yesterday pulled out of talks to invest $50m (pounds 30m) in Donald Trump's Castle casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The plan, unveiled in October, was to redecorate the casino to give it the theme of the Hard Rock chain of hamburger restaurants, which Rank bought out entirely in a pounds 270m deal in June. Rank's shares fell 9.5p to 425.5p yesterday.

Trump's Castle, part of the leisure empire which is spearheading a comeback for the eponymous former property tycoon, was to have been converted into a Hard Rock Casino Hotel, with the British group sharing in some of the profits. But Rank, where Andrew Teare, formerly of English China Clays, took the helm in April, said it now regarded the potential returns on the proposed investment as "inadequate".

A Rank spokeswoman said: "We explored the possibility of rebranding Trump Castle with Hard Rock branding, but having explored it fully, frankly the returns as we perceived it just weren't going to meet our criteria." She said there were no plans to reopen the talks.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts had earlier announced the termination of discussions in New York. The group said, however, that it retained exclusive, long-term restrictive covenants for themed restaurants, entertainment venues and casinos by Hard Rock Cafe International in the Atlantic City market. These "covenants" were included in the agreement which established the Hard Rock Cafe and merchandise store in the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Other possible themes for Trump's Castle have been pursued, the company said. It refused to elaborate on what these were, but a decision is expected shortly.

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