GVC ups stakes in United Kingdom gambling with $5.2 billion Ladbrokes bid

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GVC, which owns the Bwin and Sportingbet brands, would hold 53.5 per cent of the combined group.

According to today's press release, Ladbrokes stockholders are likely to be offered cash and shares equal to 160.9p a share, plus an uplift worth up to 42.8p a share depending on the outcome of the United Kingdom government's ongoing regulatory review.

The talks marks the third attempt previous to reach a deal between the two firms, after two previous unsuccessful round of negotiations.

Online gambling company GVC Holdings is in talks to buy Ladbrokes Coral for up to $5.2 billion (3.9 billion) in a long-awaited deal that would transform it into a bastion of British betting.

Both firms have also agreed that Kenneth Alexander of GVC will be the chief executive of the combined company if the deal goes through.

Shares in Ladbrokes soared 28% to 174.2p in early trading on Thursday, while GVC climbed 8% to 979p.

Wilson suggested that if the triennial review sees the government tightens the rules somewhat but stays short of imposing a £2 stake limit on betting machines, this could see the offer for LCL rise to somewhere in excess of 180p, "which looks a healthy premium given the regulatory overhang".

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"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.

Addleshaws previously acted for GVC in its £1.1bn contested takeover of gambling company Bwin, which was completed in 2016, as well as its £485m takeover of Sportingbet in 2013.It also advised GVC on its transfer to a premium listing past year.

As a result of the industry crackdown, the Government's DCMS revealed that FOBTs' maximum stakes should be reduced from the current amount of £100 allowed. "You can only sit and wait for so long".

Ladbrokes Coral - which operates 3,500 shops across England, Wales and Scotland - would receive 32.7p in cash and 0.141 ordinary GVC shares for each Ladbrokes Coral share.

Last year Paddy Power merged with its digital rival Betfair and Ladbrokes merged with Gala Coral. 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 firms said in the statement.

Houlihan Lokey and Investec are advising GVC on the deal, while Ladbrokes Coral is working with Greenhill and UBS.

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