Gala Coral Group prepares for sale of bingo business

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 | DIVISION SALE

Gala Coral Group has brought in bankers at Lazard to seek out a buyer for its bingo clubs in a formal sale process after sounding out the market for interest last year.

Gala Bingo’s 135 clubs are said to be worth more than £250 million. Along with rival Rank Group it is the leading bingo hall operator in the UK.

The sale will clear a path for Gala to float its remaining betting and gaming operations, and an IPO of its core bookmaking business. It has a portfolio of over 1,800 betting shops on Britain’s high streets, but with rising tax pressures on bookmakers it may have to close down shops in the autumn.

Potential buyers jostling for first position in the sale include former Gala boss John Kelly in conjunction with Park Square Capital, former chairman of Pizza Express Luke Johnson, and Henry Jackson’s OpCapita.

Third quarter results released recently revealed an 18 per cent rise in total group earnings to £67.2 million, boosted by the World Cup and a good online performance.

Gala Coral’s chief executive Carl Leaver said: “We remain pleased with the turnaround in the performance of Gala Retail and have recently embarked on a process to explore a potential sale of the division.”

Amid rising taxes for bookmakers, William Hill and Ladbrooks have been closing down outlets, with Gala Coral being the latest to warn of potential closures.

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