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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Genting Scoops Up Stanley Leisure

LONDON -- Malaysian gambling company Genting said Monday that it agreed to buy the 80 percent it does not already own of Stanley Leisure, Britain's largest casino operator, for £639 million ($1.19 billion) to build its presence in Britain.

The 860 pence ($16.05) per share offer was 26.4 percent higher than the closing price on Sept. 1, the day before the announcement of Genting's approach, the company said in a statement. Prior to the offer, Genting held a 19.8 percent stake in Stanley Leisure.

Stanley Leisure is the largest casino operator in Britain with 45 casinos, including four in London. It also has interests in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Croatia and Romania through joint ventures.

Britain is loosening its gambling laws, allowing higher prizes and bigger casinos. That is attracting foreign investors looking to capitalize on the new legislation: Anschutz Entertainment Group, controlled by billionaire Philip Anschutz, wants to build a super-casino on the site of London's Millennium Dome, though he is facing opposition from religious and other pressure groups.

Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment, the world's biggest casino group, pounced this month with an agreed bid for London Clubs, in which Genting owns a 30-percent stake, leaving the market in little doubt that the Malaysian firm would swoop on Stanley.

"The takeover makes sense, looking at the long-term benefits of consolidating your position in the UK market which is going through deregulation," said Vincent Khoo, an analyst with Hwang-DBS Vickers in Kuala Lumpur. "Stanley is likely to be a bigger beneficiary of the deregulation as it has a larger share of the mid- to low-end gaming market."

(AP, Reuters)