Asia’s Guoco Group Limited has again increased its stake in Great Britain’s second largest bingo club and casino owner, Rank Group, to 18.08 percent.
Rank is the firm behind MeccaBingo.com, GrosvenorCasinos.com and GrosvenorPoker.com and this latest move from Hong Kong-based Guoco could escalate into a bidding war. Earlier this month, investment bankers Goldman Sachs increased its holdings in Rank by eleven percent to 16.1 percent, making it the second biggest shareholder after Guoco.
Guoco is a subsidiary of investment group Hong Leong (Malaysia) Berhad run by Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan and is looking to build a base in the UK casino market. It has been gradually raising its stake in Rank since January, when it held around four percent, also in direct competition with Malaysia’s Genting Group, who recently increased its share to 12.67 percent. There is also the UK’s Richardson family, whose interests include property and haulage, with a stake thought to be around eleven percent.
In May, Rank revealed that its sales had declined by eight percent following the introduction of the UK’s indoor smoking ban. It countered by opening sheltered outdoor gaming areas and installing remote play equipment at its bingo halls.