GVC in Talks to Buy Ladbrokes Coral for Up to $5.2 Billion

Shares in Ladbrokes Coral were up by more than a quarter in early trading despite uncertainty over the government’s consultation over fixed-odds betting terminals

GVC, which is listed on the FTSE 250 with a market cap of under £3bn, said the possible offer would see it offer a mix of cash and shares, plus a further value of up to 42.8p structured as a "contingent value right" determined by the outcome of the government's triennial review into gaming machines in the bookmaking industry.

Bookmaker GVC Holdings has offered to buy Ladbrokes Coral for up to 3.9 billion pounds (US$5.2 billion) to create a betting giant able to cope with the tougher rules being imposed by the British government.

GVC Chief Executive Kenneth Alexander is expected to head up the combined group, although this has yet to be finalised and may change over the coming weeks. 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".

GVC, which operates brands including Sportingbet, Foxy Bingo, PartyPoker and Bwin recently announced group revenues of £243.5m during the third quarter of 2017, a rise of 10% year-over-year.

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The merger would follow previous combinations like that of Paddy Power and Betfair as well as Ladbrokes with Coral.

The last round of takeover talks broke down in August amid reported disputes about the respective value of the companies.

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

Now, as the United Kingdom government's ongoing regulatory review continues to cast a shadow over the gambling sector, it would appear that Ladbrokes' management is keen to get a deal done.

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The final amount for the sale of Ladbrokes is dependent upon the review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which could result in the maximum stake falling to just £2 from £100.

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.

So the deal will give, Ladbrokes' investors access to a globally diversified digital gaming business while GVC can expand onto the United Kingdom high street. 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 shareholders would be entitled to the rest.

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