Tuesday, 19 February 2008

British Billionaire buys 7% stake in Ladbrokes

The Bahamas-based British Billionaire ranked 16th on the Sunday Times Richlist, Joe Lewis, has bought a near 7% stake in Ladbrokes, the UK's biggest bookmaker. Mr Lewis believed that Ladbrokes shares are undervalued and he is thought to be keen to acquire more blocks if and when they become available. His holding is worth £300 million.

Speculation has swirled in recent weeks as to the identity of the buyer after Citigroup disclosed in a series of statements that it was holding shares as “contracts for difference” on behalf of one of its clients.

Mr Lewis recently paid $860 million (£440 million) for a 7% stake in Bear Stearns, the American bank, which has been hit hard by the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown. He has since increased his holding to 8%. He also owns a stake in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and has in the past tried to acquire Victor Chandler, the betting group.

Any bid could also involve a tie-up with Apax Partners, the British private equity group, which is known to have approached Ladbrokes in 2006 when it was demerged from Hilton Group. Mr Lewis, who is involved with Betdaq, the betting exchange, has recently been linked to stake-building at Rank Group, the embattled casino and bingo club operator. Analysts believe that, in the event of a bid for Ladbrokes, he may consider turning his sights on Rank with a view to merging the two companies and creating a gambling conglomerate to rival Gala Coral. (source: Timesonline)

Anyone who splashed out £450 on a state of the art HD-DVD high definition player could soon be counting the cost. Comprehensively outsold by the Sony-developed rival Blu-ray, the Toshiba player may soon be irrelevant, amid growing expectation that its Japanese manufacturer will abandon the technology within days.

An estimated 50,000 HD-DVD players have been sold in Britain — although Toshiba will say that sales across Europe total 200,000 and almost 275 000 films. Blu-ray, though, has built up an unassailable lead, with a little over 800,000 films sold in Britain since both technologies were launched.

Toshiba insisted yesterday that “no decision had been taken,” although private briefings in Japan indicated that the cave-in would come later this week. In Tokyo, Toshiba shares increased by 6%, in the hope that it can save $450 million (£220 million) by walking away from its white elephant.

Five Hollywood studios back Blu-ray, after Warner Brothers said it would switch to the format at the beginning of the year, leaving HD-DVD owners only with films from Universal, the King Kong studio, and Paramount.

Blu-ray won because Sony built the player into the PlayStation3 games console. Although Toshiba had support from Sony’s games rival Microsoft, HD-DVD was not built into the Xbox 360, meaning that it was not a default purchase. In America, Blu-ray films are outselling HD-DVD releases by at least four to one; most weeks two thirds of players sold were Blu-ray devices. Blu-ray has built up a similar lead in Japan. (source: Timesonline)

No comments: