GVC, Ladbrokes Coral in 'detailed' talks over merger

Ladbrokes Coral

The fast-growing online betting group GVC is back in talks with Ladbrokes Coral about a takeover worth up to £3.9 billion.

GVC is proposing to pay 32.7p in cash plus 0.141 of its own shares for each Ladbrokes share, valuing the company at £3.1bn.

The tie-up would create an online-led gambling group with operations worldwide.

Based on the terms laid out, both parties anticipate that Ladbrokes Coral shareholders would hold a stake of around 46.5 per cent in the enlarged business, with GVC shareholders holding 53.5 per cent.

In addition, the companies have agreed that should the deal go through, Kenneth Alexander, now chief executive of GVC, would take on the same role at the enlarged group.

"The enlarged group would be geographically diversified with a large portfolio of businesses across both regulated and developing markets, with the scale and resources to address the dynamics of a rapidly changing global industry".

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Shares in the 230-year-old Ladbrokes jumped 26 percent in early trading, while GVC shares rose 6 percent on confirmation of the long-rumoured offer, which is in cash and shares.

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The talks follow two previous attempts at a deal between the pair.

"Whilst this deal was always likely, most had thought GVC would wait until the government's triennial review of fixed odds betting terminals was finished before it would happen".

It comes amid a wave of consolidation in the sector, which has been under pressure pending the review, which is expected to significantly cut earnings from the lucrative betting machines - known as the "crack cocaine of gambling".

Ladbrokes Coral has received a non-binding proposal from GVC regarding a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of the company.

They added that the enlarged group would benefit from operating different brands across different markets including the UK, Italy and Australia.

GVC, which boasts 79 million registered accounts and operates in 21 languages through names such as sportingbet and partypoker, previously bought bwin.party in 2016.

Ladbrokes Coral was created out of the merger of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral in November a year ago.

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