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Brown puts Tote up for sale again- 13 Oct 2009 00:00:00

The Tote, the government-owned betting organisation, is to be part of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s £16bn fire sale of assets in a bid to shore up public finances.

The assets sale, designed as an alternative to immediate cuts proposed by the Conservative Party, is expected to generate £3bn in initial sales although it is unclear if a buyer has been found for the Tote.

The Tote has been put up for sale on numerous occasions before but the government has been unable to find a buyer to either meet the asking price or take on the operation.

Previous bids had valued the business at about £400m but recent reports suggested Goldman Sachs, who were hired to evaluate the operation, valued it between £260m and £290m.
Though the sale was postponed last October due to a lack of viable options, the government has long faced a dilemma, as it promised to sell the Tote, with its 529 betting shops and pools, after the election in 2001.

The Conservatives have been critical of the overall move saying the sale was ‘probably necessary’ but ‘no substitute for a long-term plan’.

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