Stanley Leisure PLC has secured the City’s blessing to raise up to 350 mln stg via a rights issue if it wins the bidding war for Coral Eurobet, The Business reported without citing sources.

 

The paper added that Coral is close to putting together a shortlist of preferred bidders, headed by Rank and private equity group, Permira.

 

Stanley has 32 mln stg in cash, which may be largely eroded by the recent Tower Casino buy – funded by a 30 mln stg placing – the paper said.

 

Stanley is thought to be reluctant to buy the internet division Eurobet, which Coral’s current owners, Morgan Greenfell Private Equity, has been unable to sell off.

 

Special zone move backed by cabinet

 

Electric trains, water taxis under eco-plan

 

Cabinet has endorsed the declaration of Koh Chang as special administration zone, the next step in its plan to turn the island into a world-class tourist island.

 

A panel has been working on development ideas. Electric trains could provide public transport, it says, while nearby Koh Kood would be turned into a luxury tourist attraction such as France’s Riviera, Italy’s Capri island and Spain’s Marbella.

 

Deputy government spokesman Kuthep Saikrajang said a public body would oversee the changes. The government would focus on eco-tourism and ban all “dirty business” on the island, he said.

 

A draft royal decree setting up a special UFA administration organisation would be completed next month and sent to cabinet. “We have a land encroachment problem here, but the governor and the development panel are working on it. When the decree is in place we can start work on making Koh Chang an eco-tourist attraction,” Lt Kuthep said.

 

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had suggested that similar outfits could manage other tourist spots.

 

Forestry Department head Plodprasop Suraswadi, who chairs the development panel, and has been tipped as the first man to head the special administrative body, said a royal decree was the best solution.

 

Koh Chang urgently needed good management, especially city planning, as it had many illegal buildings.

 

Plans to improve the island, drawn up by the National Economic and Social Development Board and the town development co-ordination office, were tabled as cabinet met on the island yesterday.

 

Koh Chang will be developed under the `tropical island paradise” concept by highlighting the beauty of beaches and eco-tourism, as well as creating transport links to Cambodia.

 

Tourists belonging to the “new elite group”, wanting stays at boutique resorts, would be targeted. To limit the number of vehicles, electric trains are proposed, while “water taxis” would take people from Koh Chang to other islands.

 

Tourists would pay taxes or fees for trekking and diving, and eyesores would be moved or demolished. Nearby Koh Kradad, or Koh Mak, would be home to an “eco-golf course”, exclusive casino and water sports.