MGPE prepares Coral sale

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity has appointed Lehman Brothers to co-ordinate the sale of the UK betting shop chain.

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, the private equity division of Deutsche Bank, is close to completing the sale of its UK betting shop chain, Coral.

The Sunday Times reports that MGPE has instructed Lehman Brothers to co-ordinate the sale of the business, which could be valued at between £825-875m. UK bookmaker Fred Done is believed to be looking to link up with a private equity house to table an offer in the region of £850m.

The betting office chain is thought to be an attractive acquisition to trade buyers and private equity firms alike. One banker described the business as ‘attractive’, particularly given the recent easing of regulations by the UK government which included an alteration to the taxation on gambling.

In addition to interest from Fred Done, Coral is likely to come into the range of bookmakers including Ladbrokes and William Hill, which recently launched one of the year’s most successful IPOs. MGPE had originally planned to list Coral with a value of up to £1bn in 2000, but decided against the listing due to adverse market conditions. No one at MGPE could be reached for comment.

Other potential bidders include casino and bingo companies, including Rank, Gala, Stanley Leisure, the bookmaker.