UK Bookmaker William Hill (WMH.L) boldly claimed on Monday that it is to become Europe’s leading online gambling and sports betting business after striking a deal with the gambling software provider, Playtech (PTEC.L), to create William Hill Online (WHO). Playtech has bought out its affiliate, Uniplay, on preferential terms along with other gaming brands, customer service operations and websites, totalling 144.5 million pounds and has placed them onto WHO’s assets. Under the terms of the deal Playtech is to receive a 29 per cent interest in WHO and the equivalent share of profits, and will also replace CryptoLogic as William Hill’s poker and casino software provider from January. William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping said that the company was now in the top three gaming companies in Europe on revenues and number one on profits. “We expect revenues to grow by 50 per cent over the next two years,” he said.
Subprime lender Cattles CTT.L saw its shares increase 54 per cent on Monday as fears declined over whether the bank would gain regulatory approval for a licence to take retail savings deposits. Prior to submitting the licence application Cattles raised 200 million pounds through a rights issue in order to strengthen its capital base. The lender hopes to take one billion pounds of retail deposits by 2010 to reduce its reliance on wholesale funding markets. Some analyst have been concerned that Cattles might have to hold more capital than had been expected in order to obtain the licence, owing to the fact that the lender’s customers are generally not in the mainstream and therefore more likely to default. In June around 31 per cent of the lender’s loans were in arrears although its loans loss ratio remained stable at 8.5 per cent. Cattle’s shares closed at 36.25 pence, up 12.75 pence.
Conveyor belt manufacturer Fenner (FENR.L) has asked the Financial Services Authority to help track down a man who has been contacting its shareholders by telephone, under the guise of a company employee, to say that the company was about to release a negative trading update. Fenner first learnt of the sabotage when eight private shareholders contacted the company to ask what was going on. Fenner released a statement on Monday in which it sought to undo any damage caused by the malicious caller. Fenner chief executive Mark Abrahams said: “The only common theme seems to be he tried to spread generally negative news. Either it is someone with one of these share scams or it is a short seller.” Shares in the company, which have lost 35 per cent of their value in the last two weeks, rose 3 pence on Monday to close at 106.5 pence.
Prepared for Reuters by Durrants