William Hill Rules Out Bid For Rank
By Jon Young
Gambling giant William Hill has ruled out a bid for gaming company Rank after announcing a profit increase of 47 percent for 2006. Chief executive David Harding said that a takeover was not on the agenda, explaining that because of the current climate in both the bingo and casino industry it was increasingly unlikely that multi-platform gaming businesses would evolve in the next few years.

Harding went on to say that online poker and casino had endured a 'challenging second half after an encouraging start to the year,” due to US legislation which caused increased competition in the European markets.

'When the US closed down, a number of firms relocated to Costa Rica, so you saw a flight to Costa Rican-based sites not just from American players, but also some European players so that hit our poker business harder than we'd expected,' he said.

'However, I am delighted with the performance of the group, particularly the retail business, which has prospered this year following the successful integration of Stanley,'' Harding concluded.

Net income for the gaming company rose to £166.8 million in the fiscal year ended 26 December, from £113.1 million pounds in the previous year, driven largely by wagers placed on the 2006 World Cup.

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