UK online gaming group buys gambling chain Ladbrokes

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GVC, owner of Foxy Bingo and Sportingbet websites, has agreed to buy British betting chain Ladbrokes Coral for up to £4.0 billion ($5.3 billion, 4.5 billion euros), the pair said Friday.

The cash-and-stock bid, pitched at 207.20 pence per Ladbrokes share, would create an online-led gambling titan but faces hurdles amid a UK government review into certain types of betting.

The deal, the latest attempt at consolidation in the sector, will see Ladbrokes investors own 46.5 percent with GVC holding a majority of 53.5 percent.

The two companies had already revealed earlier this month that they were in "detailed discussions".

The takeover will combine Ladbrokes Coral's high-street and online operations with GVC's portfolio of brands.

"Ladbrokes Coral board believes that the proposed combination with GVC accelerates our strategy to improve the customer experience, drive faster online growth and build a more diverse and extensive international portfolio of businesses," said Ladbrokes chairman John Kelly.

"It secures earlier delivery of our long-term value potential, which is why the board of Ladbrokes Coral has unanimously recommended GVC's offer."

Ladbrokes itself had completed its £2.3-billion merger with Gala Coral in November 2016.

The chain has nearly 3,700 stores on the high street and more than 25,000 staff, while GVC has a raft of brands after a series of acquisitions and has 2,800 employees and contractors at offices around the world.

The takeover will generate cost savings of at least £100 million per year, it is hoped.

Britain is meanwhile overseeing a regulatory review of so-called fixed-odds betting terminals.

The controversial electronic terminals currently allow Britons to stake as much as £100 per spin in betting shops, sparking outcry from gambling addiction charities.

The British government had stated in October that the maximum stake will be slashed to between £50 and £2.

© 2017 AFP

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