A battle is being fought over the future of the century-old Newbury Racecourse after the group rejected a £33.5m hostile takeover bid from its biggest shareholder, the investment company Guinness Peat. The Independent

Lady Lloyd-Webber is Newbury's second-largest investor and, as a director of the board, is opposed to the takeover.

Guinness Peat is concerned that the board's £45m plans to redevelop Newbury, which inc-lude building a 120-bed hotel and selling off land to a housing developer, are not in the best interests of shareholders.

GPG owns a 21% stake in Newbury. Lady Lloyd-Webber, who is a member of the Jockey Club and the owner of Watership Down Stud, near Newbury, has a 12.7% stake.

The company is listed on Plus Markets and made a pre-tax loss of £1.37m in the six months to the end of June, on turnover of £2.59m.