05 November 2020 02:33
Rank Group, the owner of Mecca Bingo, will on Thursday tap investors for new funds as the second lockdown in England hammers an industry already hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Sky News has learnt that Rank will signal plans for a share placing that is expected to raise tens of millions of pounds to strengthen its balance sheet. Under emergency rules, companies can raise up to 20% of their market value from a fast-track placing, which in Rank's case would equate to roughly £70m. Image: Rank owns the Grosvenor casinos chain It was unclear on Wednesday night whether that represented the extent of the gambling group's fundraising plans. The proposals may prove controversial among shareholders in Rank, which also owns the Grosvenor casinos chain.
Advertisement Last week, Sky News revealed that Rank faced a backlash at its annual general meeting this month over proposals to hand top executives big share windfalls a year earlier than it had previously indicated. The company has been 'red-topped' by the Investment Association's IVIS service, while Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), a voting advisory firm, has recommended voting against Rank's board on the issue. Any revolt by institutional shareholders will be diluted by the fact that Rank is majority-owned by a single Malaysian shareholder. Nevertheless, a big protest would be embarrassing for Rank after it furloughed thousands of its employees as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player COVID-19: The economic virus It could also complicate efforts to secure shareholder support for the equity-raising. Last week, Rank announced that it was selling its casino business in Belgium for £25m. A Rank spokesman declined to comment.