Rank rules out cash for shareholders

Rachel Stevenson
Thursday 16 January 2014 05:57

Rank Group, owner of the Hard Rock Café and Mecca bingo chains, yesterday posted pre-tax profits of £85m, driven by strong growth in its gaming businesses.

Operating profits at Hard Rock, however, have slumped more than 40 per cent to £14.8m for the half-year, as a fall off in tourism hit merchandising sales.

Mike Smith, chief executive, ruled out breaking up the group to separate its casinos, gaming companies, film production business and Hard Rock. Operating profits at Deluxe, its film unit, were up 38 per cent.

Venture capitalists and rival gaming firms are interested in picking off parts of the group.

Mr Smith also ruled out a share buy-back. Investors had hoped one may be offered after Rank failed to buy Coral Eurobet, the UK's third largest bookmaker, last month.

"We are not looking at acquisitions as we have a lot of growth within the businesses," said Mr Smith.

"We have a strong balance sheet and can invest in our businesses with confidence."

Rank has already sold its Tom Cobleigh pubs, Odeon cinemas, Butlins holiday camps and its shares in the Universal theme park in Florida and Pinewood Studios.

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