Singapores BIL ups dividend, seeks UK casino licences - Friday 12th of August 2005

Singapore investment firm BIL International , subject of a takeover bid by Hong Kongs Guoco Group , said on Monday it planned to pay investors a higher dividend for 2005 and would apply for casino licences in Britain.

The owner of Londons Thistle Hotels group reported a 39 percent jump in year to June net profit to $86.9 million, boosted by gains from the sale of six hotels and the disposal of other foreign investments.

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The company, which operates 20 London hotels under the Thistle brand, said the July bomb attacks on the citys public transport would have a short-term negative impact on trading.

"The company has taken proactive steps to minimise the negative impacts," BIL said without elaborating.

BIL, once the investment vehicle of New Zealand corporate raider Sir Ron Brierley and now controlled by Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan, raised its annual dividend to 3.5 Singapore cents ($2.12) from 2.5 Singapore cents for last year.

It also said it had applied for casino licences in Britain, but said the licencing process had yet to be completed.

In July, Hong Kong property and investment firm Guoco made a S$1.20 per share cash bid for BIL that valued BIL at S$1.64 billion ($972 million).

The bid was triggered by takeover regulations after Guoco took its stake in the company above 30 percent. BIL shares were trading on Monday at S$1.26 a share, above the offer price. Analysts have said Guoco does not want the bid to succeed.

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