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The number of the beast

Paul Jackson

The number of the beast

Gamblers and investors can be a superstitious lot. Earlier this month, the two most senior directors of GVC (GVC), owner of Ladbrokes Coral, each sold three-quarters of their stakes in the company – and spooked its share price. The sales generated £13.7m for chief executive Kenny Alexander and £6m for chairman Lee Feldman. Some spotted the sale price – £6.66 – prompting thoughts of that passage in the Book of Revelations (or even the 1982 song by Iron Maiden, which quotes it): “Woe to you, oh Earth and sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath because he knows the time is short... let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast... its number is 666”. Some questioned the odd number of shares that Mr Alexander chose to sell: 2,061,475. That left him owning... 666,666 shares. A hidden message perhaps? Co-incidence? Or maybe someone had a sense of humour. But substantial share sales by directors always arouse suspicions. Why are they selling now? What do they know that we don’t? Could they be harbingers of disappointing updates to come?

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