GBP 351 million bond repayment should bolster a waning share price

The lackluster performance of the UK gambling group Ladbroke's shares could receive a fillip in the coming week, when the company repays a GBP 351 million bond - a sign that the company still has cash-generating capability despite its low share price, near GBP 1 billion debt burden and last week's Fitch downgrade of the stock after a miserable May trading statement .

Over the weekend the business section of The Telegraph newspaper reported that the UK gambling sector had been hit by a dramatic fall off in consumer spending that has forced private equity owners to write off their stakes in Ladbrokes rival Gala Coral.

Ladbrokes, which has a total of 2 700 betting shops in the UK and overseas and takes GBP 14 billion in stakes each year, has net debt of GBP 900 million, already down by GBP 87 million from a December 2008 repayment.

The bonds will be paid on July 17 by drawing down cash from a new GBP 500 million bank facility, a Ladbrokes spokesman revealed. The bookie also has an additional loan of GBP 350 million that must be re-paid in 2011 ands GBP 250 million bond with a hefty 7.1percent interest charge due in 2012.

This month's bond re-payment will, however, give the group time to refinance its re-packaged debt burden.

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