Ladbrokes Coral in £3.9bn takeover talks with rival GVC

Bitcoin has soared 33pc this week

Bitcoin has soared 33pc this week

Ladbrokes branch in Dublin, Ireland.

Since becoming chief executive a decade ago, the Scot has built GVC through a series of increasingly ambitious deals, including the 1.1 billion pound reverse takeover of Bwin.Party, growing it from an upstart gambling firm to a FTSE 250 business.

The proposed takeover would give it access to the Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala brands and the combined company would compete with William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair.

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".

"We've come along in a fairly short period of time, we're very proud of what we've achieved", Alexander said.

Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings today said they were in "detailed discussions" about a merger.

FILE PHOTO: A branch of Ladbrokes is seen in central London, Britain, May 17, 2016.

The final value of the deal is dependent on the outcome of a Government review of controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which could see the maximum stake on the gaming machines reduced to as little as £2.

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Part of GVC's offer is conditional on the outcome of the government review.

GVC, which also owns Sportingbet and PartyCasino, has tabled a cash-and-shares approach valuing Ladbrokes at 160.9p a share, with loan notes on top worth an extra 42.8p a share.

"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.

The companies had previously held talks about a deal earlier this year but they broke down without agreement. The previous negotiations between the two companies have been unsuccessful due to disagreements over the potential companies' value.

"This triennial review has run and run and run and with the political climate in the United Kingdom who knows how much longer it may well run for?" he said.

A merger between Ladbrokes, which has a sizeable high-street presence and GVC, which is predominately online-based, is in the best interest of all parties. A larger company could have a greater competitive advantage versus sector peers. The latter would fall as online grows, he added.

"The boards believe that a transaction has the potential to create material shareholder value and that there is a compelling strategic rationale for the possible offer", the two said in the statement.

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