25 February 2007 – Sunday Times
The Reuben Brothers, the billionaire property tycoons, are believed to have tabled a near £100m bid for Northern Racing, the leisure firm that runs Chepstow racecourse, write Jenny Davey and Matthew Goodman.
Northern, which owns tracks as far apart as Newcastle and Brighton, recently hired NM Rothschild, the investment bank, to find a buyer for the business. The deadline for first-round bids was last Friday.
The brothers are known to be keen on the racing sector; they also own a 14% stake in rival operator Arena Leisure, which was quietly amassed through a derivative known as a contract for difference.
It is thought the offer for Northern is part of a grand plan to merge the business with Arena. The brothers are also understood to have sounded out Lord Hesketh, the peer with strong sporting interests, about the possibility of injecting his track at Towcester into Northern if they win the auction.
Analysts said other parties that could be interested in Northern include Racecourse Holdings Trust, which owns leading tracks such as Cheltenham and Epsom. Arena Leisure is said to be unlikely to bid for the whole of Northern, although it may be interested in some of its tracks. Its other courses include Uttoxeter and Fontwell Park.
It made annual profits in 2005 of £4.3m. The figures for 2006 are due to be published at the end of next month.