Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hilton Backers to Get Bumper [Pounds Sterling]4.2 Billion

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hilton Backers to Get Bumper [Pounds Sterling]4.2 Billion

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM ARMITAGE

HILTON GROUP is to hand shareholders a massive [pounds sterling]4.2 billion springtime cashback as it returns the proceeds of selling its hotels arm to its US sister company.

News of the huge return - higher than originally anticipated - came today as Hilton said it had completed the deal with Hilton Hotels Corp of America, leaving the UK group with the Ladbrokes betting arm.

The sum is made up of the [pounds sterling]3.3 billion proceeds of the hotels sale and [pounds sterling]900 million freed up from the Ladbrokes business by a refinancing programme.

Labrokes, headed by Chris Bell, has been inundated by takeover approaches from venture capitalists since the sale of the hotels was announced. But Bell said he wanted to keep the business as a standalone, stock market-quoted company.

He was today set to register the company's new name, Ladbrokes Plc, with Companies House.

Rosemary Thorne, formerly finance chief at Sainsbury's and Bradford & Bingley, will be his new finance director.

Bell, who has for years played second fiddle to Hilton Group chief executive David Michels, said: "It is amazingly exciting.

I've been waiting for it for a long time and, to be quite honest, I'm feeling a little giddy."

Michels has already picked up a number of non-executive directorships, including one at Marks & Spencer, since announcing he would leave. He said today that he was considering working for venture capitalists. …

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