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Online Poker News Archives - October 19, 2004

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Copyright 2004 Associated Newspapers Ltd.

October 19, 2004

HEADLINE: Caribbean deal rumour puts sun in Sportingbet


    PROFESSIONAL punters yesterday decided to have a flutter on Sportingbet on hearing that it is in advanced negotiations over the possible acquisition of a 'substantial' online poker business. Undeterred by news that any deal would have to be funded by an equity fundraising, they chased the shares up 41/2p to 1041/2p.

    Hot gossip suggests Sportingbet, currently capitalised at about Pounds 220m, is hoping to buy a business based in the Caribbean in a meaty deal worth north of Pounds 170m.

    eGaming Review, the industry 'bible', recently named Sportingbet the most powerful player in the online gaming industry, ahead of Ladbroke and William Hill. If agreed, its next acquisition should put it in a different league.

    The twin-island Caribbean state of Antigua and Barbuda has captured a sizeable chunk of the rapidly growing online gambling market, which was worth over Pounds 3.3bn last year. Online poker is the fastest growing area of the market and should continue to grow since the World Trade Organisation has ruled against restrictive US online betting laws. The Caribbean is a place where Sportingbet should be.

    Sportingbet also said yesterday that current trading over the first few weeks of the busy sports season is 'in line with the board's expectations'.

    Ignoring early weakness on Wall Street, the Footsie closed 3.9 points better at 4,626.6. Wall Street slumped 71 points initially on continuing worries that record oil prices will put pressure on economic growth and company's profit margins. Weaker-than-expected third-quarter earnings from conglomerate 3M did sentiment no favours either. The closure of short positions amid rumours of a pending upbeat circular helped medical devices group Smith & Nephew rally 11p to 484p.

    Drugs giant Astra Zeneca advanced 34p to 2137p on buying ahead of Thursday's third-quarter figures and news of a positive meeting with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Advices Agency regarding Crestor, its cholesterol drug. Medical experts evaluated the Crestor regulatory submission and there are hopes now that the drug will be approved in Japan by the end of the year.

    Mobile phone group mmO2 buzzed 11/2p higher to 1011/2p after Morgan Stanley moved to overweight. The US broker believes mmO2 will tap into the current enthusiasm for buybacks and expects a dividend of 3p to be paid in 2006. At the same time, Morgan Stanley downgraded banking giant HBOS (111/2p easier at
7481/2p) to inline from overweight. It believes there is better value to be had elsewhere in the sector, notably Northern Rock (11/2p up at 7451/2p) and Royal Bank of Scotland (4p off at 1606p).

    Although Linde denied any takeover interest in the industrial gases group, BOC rose 13p to 883p.

    Niche printer Wyndeham Press firmed 2p to 1311/2p on an upbeat trading statement. Numis says buy and its target price is 175p. Wyndeham has won a number of new orders in recent weeks including a pre-press and printing deal for Reveal, a new magazine, worth Pounds 2m. To cope with old and new demand, it has acquired a second all-singing, all-dancing printing press, costing Pounds 7.5m.
Rumours of a reverse takeover helped Transvision Resources rise 5/8p to 4p.

    Following completion of its Laguna Zacatecana feasibility study in Mexico, Minco improved 1p to 16p.

    Both placed on AIM by broker Corporate Synergy, smaller companies adviser Daniel Stewart opened and closed at 81/2p, while oil and gas exploration minnow Circle Oil opened at 181/2p, touched 25p and closed 19p.

    Vtech plummeted 26p to 801/2p following a profits warning. Marine engineer RingProp crashed 571/2p to 2821/2p after chief executive Don Hoult stepped down.

    Workplace Systems improved 11/2p to 15p after signing two contracts, including one with Eastern Railway, to supply it with workforce management software.

    AIM-QUOTED London-based Gold Oil rose 3/8p to 7p after signing an evaluation agreement with Peru's state oil company, PeruPetro, for a large unexplored area in Northern Peru. The area consists of 300,000 hectares of land, the equivalent of 14 North Sea oil blocks.

    Along with Germany's MAN Ferrostaal, it also plans to build a Pounds 200m petrochemical plant. Dealers believe the upside for GO could be huge.

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