Tote Plans Put On Hold
By Staff
In the UK, the Government has shelved plans to sell off the State-owned Tote bookmaker due to the current economic downturn with Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe stating that it would remain in public hands until conditions improved.

In July, the Government revealed that it was preparing an auction for the Tote after previous attempts to sell the business to the racing industry and a consortium backed by private equity fell through.

'After further work over the summer, I have now concluded that it is not appropriate to pursue a sale in these market conditions,” Sutcliffe told the House of Commons.

'I have, therefore, decided that the Tote should be retained in public ownership for the medium-term and brought to the market when conditions are likely to deliver value for the taxpayer and racing.

'Finally, the Government would like to place on record again its warm appreciation of the loyalty and dedication of the Tote's staff while its future has been under consideration.'

The Tote was established in 1928 by Winston Churchill and employs 4,000 people throughout the UK, making it the nation’s fourth largest bookmaker. The Labour Government committed to a sale in its 2001 election manifesto but problems have developed over the valuation of the business. Previous bids have valued the business at about $647 million but a recent report from investment bank Goldman Sachs puts the price for the concern’s 529 betting shops and pools business at between $420 million and $469 million.

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