Hilton places its bets on gambling

Hilton is expected to announce the return of about GBP 3.8 billion to investors next Thursday when it completes the sale of its hotels wing and outlines its strategy as a group that is devoted purely to gambling.

Alongside full-year profits of £400m-£405m, the company is likely to say it is returning about 240p per share after sealing the GBP 3.3 billion sale of its hotels to American cousin, Hilton Hotels Corporation. The cash return is expected to be an income payment by way of a special dividend, although the exact nature of the payment is still being debated by the board.

The group, which is changing its name to Ladbrokes, is also expected to give its first public comments on its strategy as a standalone betting company.

Chris Bell, the Ladbrokes chief executive, is likely to outline his plans to expand the business in a presentation which will be closely watched by the market and private equity suitors for Ladbrokes.

The keenest, so far, is CVC which earlier this month made a GBP 3.6 billion bid approach for the betting chain which Hilton decided to reject, saying that it „included a number of pre-conditions and failed to recognise the long-term strategic value of Ladbrokes“.

The company is unlikely to be receptive to bidders for Ladbrokes until it is trading as a standalone company.

Analysts expect that any predator will have to pay more than GBP 4 billion to clinch a deal.