Bookmaker Coral Eurobet is thought to be gearing up for an £800 million stock market flotation.

The group has reportedly appointed bankers to look at its options.

A listing would make it the latest in a number of firms to cash in on the stock market's appetite for gambling stocks, following the recent flotations of internet poker groups Party Gaming and Empire Online.

It would mark a major windfall for the company's management team, led by chief executive Vaughn Ashdown.

Coral's management owns 16 per cent of the business, which would be worth around £128 million at the value being discussed.

The remainder of the group is owned by private equity firm Charterhouse, which backed a management buyout in 2002.

According to the Sunday Times, Coral has hired investment bank Lehman Brothers as its adviser.

But the company ' s £1.2 billion debt means any prospective buyer would have to find £2 billion to fund the deal. Coral was founded in


The group has bought a number of smaller chains in recent years and a flotation is expected to help fund further acquisitions.

Coral has changed hands a number of times in recent years with other owners, including rival Ladbrokes and Morgan Grenfall Private Equity. Profits have more than doubled since the Charterhouse buyout. Coral makes annual operating profits of around £145 million on sales of £5.4 billion.

Charterhouse has already more than recovered its original £278 million outlay, having taken a total of £ 560 million out of the business.