Ladbrokes Coral to be taken over by GVC

Online gambling operator, GVC Holdings is getting closer to takeover UK’s biggest high street bookmaker, Ladbrokes Coral for £4bn.

If the deal is made it would create one of the largest gambling groups. The 116-year-old name of Ladbrokes would remain as a brand under GVC’s. The latter already has several brands – mainly with online roots – as they own Bwin, PartyPoker, Sportingbet and Foxy Bingo.

This acquisition would strengthen GVC’s presence in the UK and would add 3,500 betting shops to their business, which would make them have the biggest share of several markets, as they would be the market leaders in Garmany, Italy and the UK.

Ladbrokes Coral would own 46.5% of the combined company. The current chairman and chief executive of GVC’s, Lee Feldman and Kenny Alexander, would keep their positions, while Ladbrokes Coral’s finance director, Paul Bowtell, would become finance chief after the acquisition.

The exact size of the deal depends on the gambling review of the UK goverment’s and even more on its decision on the maximum stakes for fixed-odds betting terminals(FOBT). Currently, these machines operate with a £100 maximum stake, while they most likely will be reduced to somewhere between £50 and £2.
Since FOBTs account for the largest slice of the revenues they final price will be highly affected by the details of the review, which are expected to be released next month.

“The bigger the crackdown on FOBTs, the more the merger makes sense and ultimately, shares of the combined entity would have greater upside potential.” – Jasper Lawler, the head of research at London Capital Group told Financial Times.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018.

GVC is planning on doing more acquisition deals, as Kenny Alexander of GVC’s said: “In a dynamically evolving industry, the transaction creates an enlarged group with the scale, diversity, proprietary technology and management expertise to pursue many opportunities globally.”

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