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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 12:38 GMT
Casino chain 'may bid for rival'
Gambling chips
For London Clubs, the chips are down
Gaming firm Stanley Leisure has said it is considering bidding to buy London Clubs, one of the UK's most upmarket casino chains.

In a statement to the London stock market, Stanley Leisure said it has been watching the circumstances of London Clubs closely.

London Clubs had to renegotiate its credit facilities earlier this year after its giant Aladdin casino in Las Vegas went bust as visitor numbers slumped in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks.

Stanley Leisure said it views London Clubs, whose UK casinos include the upmarket Les Ambassadeurs and 50 St. James in London, as "one of its principal competitors".

Target says 'No dice'

However, Stanley Leisure made clear that it wants the support of London Clubs' board for any offer it might make, saying it would bid if an agreement could be reached with all relevant parties.

Aladdin Casino, Las Vegas
No magic at the Aladdin for London Clubs

But London Clubs' board responded on Monday morning by saying it has not been involved in any talks.

Stanley Leisure said it had held talks with the rival firm's chief executive, Alan Goodenough, and venture capital firm Hg Capital over the feasibility of a bid.

Stanley Leisure hinted that its discussions were still at an early stage, saying it has not yet initiated the detailed checking of London Clubs' accounts which would be needed to put a price tag on the company.

Stanley Leisure said it was announcing the talks because of press reports of a potential tie-up.

In its response, London Clubs' board said its debt reduction strategy was "on schedule and progressing well".

No gold in Las Vegas

Stanley Leisure is currently building the UK's largest casino in Birmingham, with 40 gaming tables and more than 200 staff.

London Clubs was the first UK gaming firm to enter the US market, taking a 40% stake in the 1.2bn Aladdin.

The giant casino performed poorly and eventually filed for bankruptcy protection in late September 2001.

London Clubs negotiated a cap on its financial liabilities from the Aladdin.

London Clubs fell into the red during 2001, suffering from declines in sales and the greater unwillingness of its clients to pay gaming debts, especially at posher London venues such as Les Ambassadeurs.

See also:

15 Jul 02 | Business
30 Sep 01 | Business
26 Mar 02 | Politics
26 Mar 02 | England
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