Markets

Ladbrokes Coral talks over takeover by Bwin owner GVC

Ladbrokes Coral talks over takeover by Bwin owner GVC

For fast-growing GVC, which since making the jump from AIM to the full list last year has grown organically and through acquisitions such as Bwin.Party, this is its third attempt at a tie-up with Ladbrokes, following talks in August and a first tilt last year.

Both firms have also agreed that Kenneth Alexander of GVC will be the chief executive of the combined company if the deal goes through.

A joint statement released by the two companies said the potential deal will give GVC shareholders ownership of 53.5% of the combined firm, with Ladbrokes shareholders holding the rest.

GVC Holdings Plc is in advanced talks to acquire United Kingdom bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc for as much as 3.9 billion pounds ($5.2 billion), as gambling companies seek greater scale in a business that's shifting online.

Ladbrokes Coral - which operates 3,500 shops across England, Wales and Scotland - would receive 32.7p in cash and 0.141 ordinary GVC shares for each Ladbrokes Coral share.

Shares in Ladbrokes soared 28% to 174.2p in early trading on Thursday, while GVC climbed 8% to 979p. Discussions in the summer disintegrated following a price dispute prior to a government-led gambling review.

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According to the statement, the purchase price would depend on the outcome of the highly-anticipated triennial review into the United Kingdom gambling industry, in which the government is expected to call for a significant reduction in the maximum stake playable in fixed odds betting terminals.

The merger would follow previous combinations like that of Paddy Power and Betfair as well as Ladbrokes with Coral. The enlarged entity would be "an online-led, globally-positioned betting and gaming business that would benefit from a multi-brand, multi-channel strategy applied across some of the strongest brands in the sector".

It announced last month that the maximum stake would be cut from £100 to between £2 and £50.

In November, GVC sold its Turkish business for up to €150mln to Ropso Maltato to pave the way for potential merger with Ladbrokes Coral.

"GVC's recent move to exit Turkey cleared the last barrier and LCL shareholders should be pleased to see the firm is now better insulated against the vagaries of the United Kingdom market", said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.


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