Stanley Leisure shares rise again on bidding war hope

Shares in Liverpool casino group Stanley Leisure climbed higher again yesterday as City dealers clung to their belief that a bidding contest could break out for the company.

The shares rose to 877p yesterday despite the fact that the agreed bid by Malaysia’s Genting International valued the firm at 860p a share.

The rumours that a second bidder might emerge for the Dale Street group, founded and part owned by Lord Leonard Steinberg, emerged despite the fact that Genting already owns 26% of the business and is in talks to take that figure to 30.5%.

Las Vegas based Harrah’s, one of the world’s largest casino groups, was linked to a bid for Stanley within the past few weeks until it acquired rival casino group London Clubs International. MGM Mirage are also thought to be another possible bidder.

One analyst said: „The market is clearly expecting some more activity in the sector.“

Stanley is an attractive proposition for overseas groups seeking a foothold in the UK market. Recent laws that have relaxed restrictions on casinos should ensure growth in the sector and Stanley’s chain of 45 outlets means it is well placed to benefit from such growth.

Lord Leonard Steinberg is set to receive £70m following this week’s agreement to sell the rest of the stake he still holds in the company he founded three decades ago.It is the second major acquisition of Stanley shares by Genting, which has already paid Lord Steinberg more than £40m for a tranche of stock.

Under City takeover rules, the deal between Lord Steinberg and Genting means the Malaysians must now make the same offer to the rest of the group’s shareholders. The offer has the backing of Stanley’s board.

Genting’s price of 860p a share for Stanley is 42% higher than the 605.5p share price a month ago and 26% higher than the 680.5p before the offer on September 2.

Stanley Leisure chief executive Bob Wiper said the deal „represents fair value and provides appropriate certainty for our shareholders“.