Stanley Leisure pays 6m pounds for bookie

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SHARES IN Stanley Leisure, the Merseyside-based betting shop and casino operator, jumped by nearly 9 per cent yesterday after the company announced an acquisition and made upbeat comments on trading prospects.

Stanley has paid pounds 6m for Demmy Racing, a string of 49 bookmakers in Manchester and Lancashire. The transaction will push gearing up to 40 per cent from 35 per cent in May, the end of the company's last financial year.

In the year to 27 February Demmy achieved a turnover of pounds 25m and trading profits of pounds 250,000. Leonard Steinberg, Stanley's chairman and chief executive, said he hoped to triple profits at Demmy.

Analysts at BZW, the securities house that is also Stanley's own stockbroker, revised the full-year pre-tax profit forecast up to pounds 10m from pounds 9.3m.

Mr Steinberg also declared an interest in buying parts of two bookies, William Hill and Coral Racing. William Hill, with 1,600 shops, is the prime asset in Brent Walker. Bass, the brewer, has also made it clear that it would sell Coral, with 770 outlets, if it is offered a decent price.

Positive comments about trading in Stanley's existing businesses also warmed market sentiment. Mr Steinberg said the performances of betting shops and casinos in the first half of the 1994 financial year were considerably ahead of the same period last year.

Stanley shares closed up 20p at 249p.