London Clubs shares soar on Ladbrokes bid talk

London (Reuters) – Shares in casino operator London Clubs International rose by 8 percent on Wednesday on rumours bookmaker Ladbrokes was preparing to make a bid.

London Clubs shares closed 8.3 percent higher at 123-1/2 pence, valuing the group at around 275 million pounds, after talk Ladbrokes might offer up to 155 pence-a-share.

„It’s highly speculative, but it makes sense,“ said one London analyst. „There’s attractive growth in London Clubs, with a lot of expansion in the pipeline.“

A Ladbrokes spokesman said the rumour did not merit comment.

Speculation over Ladbrokes‘ acquisition plans has circulated ever since it was split from its parent, hotel group Hilton, in February.

For its part, London Clubs has been surrounded by bid speculation for months, mostly linked to stake-building by its Malaysian shareholder Genting, which reached 29.9 percent last April, stopping just short of the 30 percent at which it must launch a full take-over bid under UK rules.

Genting also holds over 20 percent of London Clubs‘ main rival, Stanley Leisure, leading to speculation it aims to merge the two companies.