April 8, 2007 / 1:52 PM / 12 years ago

Plan to sell bookmaker collapses, report says

LONDON (Reuters) - The government’s plans to sell state-owned bookmaker The Tote to a consortium have collapsed, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Financial Mail on Sunday quoted sources close to the deal as saying the sales process had been “kicked into the long grass” by the government, which was not prepared to discuss future sale strategies.

The government said in January it had received an offer for The Tote from a consortium made up of management, staff and horse-racing industry players.

The Financial Mail said the Treasury was not convinced that the structure of the consortium’s 400 million pound bid adequately represented the racing industry.

Government officials did not confirm the newspaper report.

“Our position is that the government is still considering the bid and will be making an announcement in due course,” a spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is overseeing the sale, said.

A Treasury spokesman made a similar comment.

The Tote, set up in 1928, comprises 540 high street betting shops, 59 betting shops on race courses as well as the pool betting system.

The Labour government pledged in 2000 to sell the Tote to the racing industry, but an attempt last year to sell it was blocked by the European Commission, which said the price was so low it constituted state aid.

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