The past six years have been tumultuous for Britain’s third-largest bookmaker. The Essex company, founded by Joe Coral in 1926, was first bought by Ladbrokes in 1997, but after the intervention of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, was sold on to Morgan Grenfell Private Equity for £390m in 1999. Morgan Grenfell planned to float the company last year but abandoned the move because the stock market was in such poor shape. Instead, it sold the company in September to its management team and Charterhouse Development Capital for £860m. Coral now operates more than 900 UK betting shops and two greyhound racing stadiums, as well as telephone and internet betting. Its international arm, Eurobet, offers online betting and casinos in 17 different languages. The company’s latest accounts show annualised sales of £1,279m and 5,191 staff. Its awaited 2002 figures should benefit from the abolition of betting tax last year.
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