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Grand Met Purchases Betting Business From Sears PLC

December 16, 1988

LONDON (AP) _ Grand Metropolitan PLC announced Friday it was buying Sears PLC’s William Hill betting chain for about $606 million cash, more than doubling the size of Grand Met’s British betting operations.

Grand Met, a major British liquor, food and retailing company, is pursuing a $5.49 billion hostile bid for U.S.-based Pillsbury Co.

William Hill will give Grand Met another 900 betting outlets in Britain, adding to the 800 outlets Grand Met already owns through its Mecca betting chain.

The combination will give Grand Met a betting division the same size as that of Ladbroke Group PLC, the largest British betting company.

William Hill also has around 400 betting shops in Belgium.

William Hill is expected to report trading profit of 23 million pounds, about $42 million at current exchange rates, in the year ending Jan. 31, 1989, up 31 percent from 17.5 million pounds, about $32 million, in the previous year, Grand Met said.

Sears, a retailer with no ties to the U.S. retailer of the same name, said proceeds of the sale would be used to reduce its borrowing.

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