Genting acts on gambling shift in U.K. - Thursday 12th of May 2005

KUALA LUMPUR Genting, Asia's biggest publicly traded casino operator, has announced plans to combine its stakes in Stanley Leisure and London Clubs International, part of a strategy to expand in Britain's gambling industry.

The move will enhance the company's "ability to leverage its investments in the U.K. and expand its leisure and hospitality related business activities," Genting said in a statement released late Friday in Kuala Lumpur. Genting, which is based in Kuala Lumpur and operates a hilltop casino and theme park resort about an hour from Malaysia's capital, is expanding overseas as competition intensifies from U.S. casino operators in Macao and Singapore, where Genting is also bidding for a casino complex. The stakes in Stanley Leisure and London Clubs will be combined in Genting International, Genting said. Genting Overseas Holdings, a fully owned unit, will sell a 20.3 percent stake in Stanley Leisure to Palomino, which is owned by Genting International, for £18.9 million, or about $35.7 million. Genting International, in turn, will issue new shares to Genting Overseas. Resorts World, a unit of Genting, will sell its 26.3 million shares, a 12 percent stake, in London Clubs to Palomino for £31.7 million.

Genting International will also issue new shares for the stake. Genting raised its stake in London Clubs, which owns 11 British casinos, to 29.9 percent, just short of the 30 percent limit for a mandatory open offer for the rest of the shares. Stanley Leisure, the biggest casino operator in Britain, said in November that it would join forces with Genting to develop Las Vegas-style casinos in Britain, capitalizing on the relaxation of the nation's gambling laws. Genting will hold half of a joint venture formed to build and run casinos in Britain, Stanley Leisure's chief executive, Bob Wiper, said on Nov. 23. Other companies planning to build casinos in Britain include MGM Mirage, based in Las Vegas, and Kerzner International, based in the Bahamas

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