'Takeover will secure Tote jobs'

A takeover by a horse racing consortium would make jobs at Wigan's Tote headquarters safer, according to one of the likely bidders for the Government-owned company.

Mark Elliott, the chief executive of racecourse owner Arena Leisure, said the consortium would expect to pay less than the likely 400m in exchange for the jobs guarantee if the government officially announces it is to sell the business.

Arena's partners in the consortium are the Racecourse Holdings Trust and the Racehorse Owners Association. It is believed to have made an initial offer of 320m to 330m.

Mr Elliot told the Sunday Telegraph that the consortium would run the Tote as an independent business "so 300 jobs in Wigan would be safeguarded. If you go down other paths, they would be very vulnerable."

The other likely bidder, Gala Coral, is expected to close the Wigan headquarters while integrating the 540 shops and the telephone, online and on-course pool betting businesses.