London Clubs creditors bet on brighter future

UFA

LONDON, July 30 (Reuters) – Creditors of indebted London Clubs International Plc have extended the British casino operator’s debt facilities for two years until June 2004, the company said in its annual results statement on Tuesday.

Creditors owed a total of 258 million pounds ($403 million) have provided 15 million pounds of extra working capital to keep the business afloat until then, and to finance a review of the options available to the firm, which operates casinos around the world.

But the group, hurt by the collapse of its Las Vegas resort Aladdin which filed for bankruptcy in September, said operating profits for the year to March were all but wiped out by the costs of servicing its debts, the costs and fees connected with the refinancing, and start up costs linked to its South African casino opening programme.

Turnover for the year to March 31 was 152.5 million pounds against 151.6 million while operating profit, excluding an exceptional 99.8-million-pound charge for the Aladdin write off, slumped to 200,000 pounds from 19.2 million.

At pretax level the company reported a loss of 119.6 million pounds for the year, widening from 52.8 million a year ago.

London Clubs also announced the appointment of a new chairman, Michael Beckett.

Quebec approves joint venture with Loto-Quebec to help run Mexican casinos

MONTREAL (CP) — The state-owned operator of Quebec’s casinos is hoping to win a piece of the lucrative Mexican market if the country’s politicians sanction the construction of casinos in tourism meccas following a 70-year ban.

The Quebec cabinet on Wednesday approved the creation of a joint venture between Loto-Quebec and the pension fund-sponsored Capital-Amerique to develop the international casino market.

“If Mexicans want help building their casinos, we already have a financial structure in place,” said Loto-Quebec spokesman Jean-Pierre Roy.

It is expected that casinos will be built in tourism centres such as Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Acapulco.

The Crown corporation has been negotiating with Mexican officials for a year. If the Mexican bill passes as expected in September, casinos would be state-owned, as they are in Quebec.

The province’s role remains to be negotiated since it’s unlikely that the Mexican government would hand the projects entirely to foreigners.

“We are interested in being operator and even financial partners, if Mexican authorities approve,” said Roy, who added that no other international projects are yet planned.

Loto-Quebec has previously helped to establish UFA lotteries in Colombia, Cameroon and Spain.

The public company runs casinos in Montreal, Hull and Charlevoix.