Economy

Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings in 'detailed' talks about £3.9bn merger

Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings in 'detailed' talks about £3.9bn merger

Bookmaker GVC Holdings has offered to buy Ladbrokes Coral for up to 3.9 billion pounds to create a betting giant able to cope with the tougher rules being imposed by the British government.

It is expected that the proposed offer would include a mix and match facility whereby Ladbrokes Coral shareholders may elect to receive more cash or more shares in GVC, subject to offsetting elections being made by other Ladbrokes Coral investors.

Shares in Ladbrokes jumped almost 30% on the news during early trading in London.

Ladbrokes has almost 3,700 bookies on the high street, while the Isle of Man-based GVC has a raft of brands after a series of acquisitions, most recently snapping up bwin.party in February 2016.

The final price will depend on the outcome of a government review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

The review is part of a government crackdown on FOTBs after MPs raised concerns the machines were too addictive and fuelled problem gambling.

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A statement on the latest potential deal said the companies were "in detailed discussions regarding the possible combination of the two businesses".

A joint statement said: "The enlarged group 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".

The tie-up would put the newly formed group in a strong position in major markets such as the UK, Italy and Australia, it added.

Both sides have agreed GVC's chief executive Kenneth Alexander would take charge of the combined group.

The CVR is calculated on a sliding scale based on what maximum stakes are imposed under the triennial review, with £0 worth 0p, £20 worth 30.3p per share and £50 worth 42.8p. There could also be synergies from the deal, while the Board of GVC also believes that the transaction would be double digit EPS accretive from the first full year post-completion.

"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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