Government bows to inevitable and Tote sale abandoned

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

As foreshadowed in our last update, the Government announced on 22 October (click here for statement) that, given the current market conditions, it is not proceeding with the sale of the Tote. Instead, it will "be retained in public ownership for the medium-term, and brought to the market when conditions are likely to deliver value for the taxpayer and racing".

This statement has brought to an end a saga of mishaps since the Government stated in its 2001 Manifesto that it would privatise the Tote - including its initial plans for sale to the racing industry being vetoed by the European Commission and a subsequent £320m bid by a racing consortium being rejected by the Government. Goldman Sachs is believed to have advised the Government that, in current market conditions, the Government would only have raised £200-£300m.

Mr. Sutcliffe's statement ended by saying "I would expect the Tote and racing to continue to work closely together for the benefit of the sport and the punter" and this was swiftly followed by representatives of the British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and the Racehorse Owners Association committing to forging a closer relationship with the Tote.