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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 10:49 GMT
Seminole tribe in Hard Rock deal
Hard Rock cafe
There are Hard Rock outlets in 45 countries
British entertainment company Rank Group has agreed to sell its Hard Rock Cafe chain to an American Indian tribe for $965m (490m).

The business is being bought by the Seminole tribe of Florida, which already runs Hard Rock-branded hotels and casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.

The Hard Rock business made a pre-tax profit of 35m in 2005 and has 132 outlets worldwide.

Rank will now focus on online and phone betting, casinos and bingo clubs.

It has sold off a number of leisure businesses in recent years, including Butlin's, Warner Holidays, Odeon Cinemas, Pinewood Studios and pub chain Tom Cobleigh.

No surrender

Rank said it would pass 350m of the sale proceeds to shareholders via a special dividend.

"Today's announcement sets a clear strategic course for Rank as a focused gaming business," said chief executive Ian Burke.

"We have established clear plans to capitalise on the changes taking place in UK gaming."

The 12,000-strong Seminole tribe has lands in Oklahoma and Florida, and its main business interests are in tobacco, tourism and gambling.

The Florida Seminoles had relied on cattle, citrus fruits and federal loans for economic survival until the late 1970s, when they opened their first bingo hall and tax-free tobacco store.

The tribe now runs two massive Hard Rock hotels and casinos on two of its reservations in Florida and has gaming businesses on three other sites.

It is the only American Indian tribe never to have signed a peace treaty with the United States.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The Seminole tribe's gaming CEO talks about the deal



SEE ALSO
Rank mulls Hard Rock cafes sale
04 Jul 06 |  Business
Smoking ban crimps Rank profits
26 Apr 06 |  Business
Bingo costs squeeze Rank profits
02 Sep 05 |  Business
Rank 'set to sell off film unit'
20 Feb 05 |  Business
Hard Rock blues knock Rank Group
27 Feb 04 |  Business
Rank cashes in on bingo boom
28 Feb 03 |  Business

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