Nomura reconsiders Dome bid over lack of visitors

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The Independent Online

The Japanese bank negotiating to buy the Millennium Dome is seeking urgent talks with its operator after learning the attraction needs an extra £49m emergency grant and has heavily cut its visitor target.

The Japanese bank negotiating to buy the Millennium Dome is seeking urgent talks with its operator after learning the attraction needs an extra £49m emergency grant and has heavily cut its visitor target.

Sources close to Nomura International made clear that their £105m bid to buy the Dome was in doubt because the revised 4.5 million figure for paying visitors raised questions about the viability of their own project.

William Hague, the Tory leader, demanded the attraction was immediately closed, calling it an "empty, pointless tent in the middle of nowhere". He also called for Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the minister responsible for the Dome, to be sacked, and said Tony Blair should order an immediate public inquiry after the Millennium Commission increased its lottery grants to the attraction to £628m.

His claims were rejected by David James, 62, the new chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company, the Dome's operator. "I'm absolutely confident that we've got an accurate fix on the running costs and adequate provision to cover the working capital to trade through to the end of 31 December," he said.

However, a source close to Nomura said the company was disturbed to learn about NMEC's new visitor figures and grant. "We need to understand what the hell is going on," he said. "Money is being spent on that place in vast amounts and we still don't know where it's going."

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