Ladbrokes Coral and GVC are back in "detailed" takeover talks

Ladbrokes Coral

GVC Holdings is in advanced talks with Ladbrokes Coral about a possible takeover of the bookmaker worth up to £3.9bn depending on the outcome of the government's gaming machines review.

GVC, which owns Sportingbet and Foxy Bingo, has put forward a cash-and-shares offer valuing Ladbrokes at 160.9p a share, with additional loan notes worth 42.8p a share. Any deal would lead to GVC owning 53.5% of the combined group, with Ladbrokes Coral shareholders owning 46.5%.

Ladbrokes completed its £2.3bn (€2.6bn) merger with Coral in November past year, but it is understood GVC first approached Ladbrokes over a tie-up when it was finalising the deal.

The deal would be the latest in a flurry of takeovers in the gambling sector.

Shares in Ladbrokes Coral surged by 25% to 170p in early trading in London on Thursday.

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Kenneth Alexander, chief executive of GVC, will take the helm on the merged company if a deal goes ahead. The company has approximately 3,500 high street betting shops.

GVC shareholders would be entitled to the rest. In addition, the two companies' Boards further explained that after the merger, the gambling behemoth would be able to draw benefit from multiple brands and a multi-channel strategy, and it would be geographically diversified in both regulated and developing markets. As Casino Guardian has previously reported, more and more countries have been focused on imposing stricter regulatory regime to their gambling markets as part of their attempts to tackle possible gambling-related harm.

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.

It announced last month that the maximum stake would be cut from £100 to between £2 and £50. No final decision on the maximum stakes' has been made, with the Government being expected to make an announcement in January 2018.

"GVC coming in before knowing the outcome of the all-important government review into the industry was probably an outside bet, ' said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, pointing to the 'significant chunk" of Ladbrokes Coral revenues from FOBTs. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.

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