Guoco Group, a subsidary of the Asia-based investment group Hong Leong (Malaysia) Berhad run by Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan, has once again increased its stake in the British land and online gambling group Rank plc, raising the ante in what could evolve into a bidding war with Genting group in Malaysia.
 
Genting recently increased its Rank shareholding to 12.67 percent after several incremental purchases.
 
Guoco's latest move brings its interest in Rank plc to 16.18 percent. The voting rights in the shares are held by Asia Fountain Investment Company Limited (‘AFI'), a controlled undertaking of Guoco Equity Assets Limited, which is a controlled undertaking of Guoco Group Limited (‘GGL').
 
GGL is a controlled undertaking of GuoLine Overseas Limited which is a controlled undertaking of GuoLine Capital Assets Limited (‘GCAL'), a controlled undertaking of Hong Leong Company (Malaysia) Berhad.
 
Goldman, Sachs & Co., acting as custodian for AFI, also has an indirect interest in the shares.  58 475 684 of the shares are registered in the name of Goldman Sachs Securities (Nominees) Limited and it is expected that the balance of 4 709 343 of the shares will shortly be registered in similar fashion.
 
Guoco has been gradually increasing its stake in Rank since January. The group has been looking to build a base in the UK casino market, albeit with limited success. BIL, its subsidiary, made substantial losses in the first six months of its Clermont land casino ownership and has won only four out of 19 licence applications to build casinos, mainly within its Thistle hotel chain.
 
Genting and Guoco are not the only companies interested in Rank; the Richardson family, whose businesses are in property and haulage, are believed to have an interest of about 11 percent through contracts for difference.