Tote bidders must wait for decision

MINISTERS failed to reach an agreement on the winner of the auction of state-owned betting group the Tote following final talks yesterday.

The department of culture, media and sport was due to announce the winner of the auction yesterday but talks were apparently derailed after chancellor George Osborne was pulled out to take calls with International Monetary Fund leadership candidates.

However, the lack of a decision also indicates that the two final bidders –BA chairman Sir Martin Broughton and the bookmakers Betfred – may be neck and neck.

Sir Martin’s investment vehicle, Sports Investment Partners, improved its offer slightly, raising its cash payment to the Treasury to £77m from £75m and its annual payment to the racing industry to £11.5m from £11m.

City A.M. understands that Betfred believes it offers a £40m higher payment to the government and has higher estimates of the Tote’s commercial revenues. A decision is expected today or early next week.