In the UK, the Government has announced plans to sell The Tote, the only organisation licensed to run pool betting on horseracing, in the autumn if market conditions were right.
According to The Guardian newspaper, Gerry Sutcliffe, the Minister for Sport and Tourism, submitted a written statement to Parliament on Monday in which he emphasised that any sale would not go ahead if the likely proceeds were deemed too low.
'The Government intends to commission detailed work on The Tote, which would provide the necessary groundwork to launch a sale in the autumn,' read Sutcliffe’s statement.
'This work will also provide further data on the company which would enable the government and The Tote board to consider how best to create further value inside The Tote if, in the light of market conditions, the Government decided in the autumn not to proceed to a sale.'
Sutcliffe described The Tote as ‘a highly attractive asset’ that would ‘enjoy significant interest’ in an open auction. However, reports suggest that investment bank Goldman Sachs, which has been advising on the sale, has valued the business at between $520 million and $580 million under current economic conditions. This figure is well below past rejected offers of $800 million and $640 million made by a racing consortium.
Nevertheless, The Guardian reported that officials have been impressed by the number of expressions of interest they have received and are optimistic that, despite present adverse conditions, a sale this year could still realise an amount that would allow the Government to avoid embarrasment.
But, the Racehorse Owners Association, which was behind the previous failed bids, stated that they would seek a judicial review.
'We are taking serious legal advice,' said Paul Dixon, President for the ROA.
'If they sell for less than we offered, serious questions will be asked. We won't let the Government get away with murder, don't worry about that.'