Rank buys Gala Coral casinos for £205m; Sportech’s best Kentucky Derby ever


rank-group-gala-coral-casino-sportechThe rumors were true: UK operator Gala Coral Group has agreed to sell its casino business to Rank Group for £205m. The deal, announced over the weekend, will see Rank assume control of 23 Gala casinos and three non-operating licenses. Not part of the deal will be Gala casinos in Dundee and Gibraltar. Also not changing hands is the non-operating license in Westminster. The sale is conditional upon gaining the nod from Rank shareholders and UK competition watchdogs, but assuming they turn their thumbs upward, the deal will complete this September. Gala CEO Carl Leaver said the deal would “crystallize significant value for our shareholders and debt investors.”

London-headquartered tote and pool betting supplier Sportech released an interim management statement at the company’s annual general meeting this week, declaring the company was performing “in line with the board’s expectations” over the past four months. Betting handle at US subsidiary Sportech Racing rose 4.5% over 2011 and turnover from the recent Kentucky Derby proved the most lucrative ever for the company, up 11% to $4m. Sportech’s online gambling business saw gross win rise over 30% following the migration of its Littlewoods Casino and Poker operation to a Playtech platform and the Q4 2011 launch of the Vernons casino/poker business. Non-exec chairman Roger Withers said Sportech’s “remaining e-gaming activities, primarily bingo” will make the Playtech transition later this year in order to consolidate product offerings in “a single platform single-wallet approach.”

Sportech announced a £4.2m reduction in net debt to £55m, following up on 2011’s £13m reduction. Sportech also announced a lone personnel reduction, as exec director Brooks Pierce made his immediate departure “to pursue other business interests.” Pierce’s business development brief – at least, the North American aspects – will be assumed by Interactive Products and Services managing director Andrew Gaughan.