Ladbrokes-Coral sale clears way for £2bn merger

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 | MERGER

Betting firms Ladbrokes and Coral have agreed to sell 359 betting shops, paving the way for their £2.7 billion merger.

Betfred will take 322 stores for £55 million and Stan James will buy the rest for £500,000. Ladbrokes said the deal, subject to approval, cleared the "last significant hurdle" for its merger with Coral. If the two firms merge they'll become the largest bookmaker in the UK.

The sale is an attempt to appease the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which said the firms must sell off between 350 and 400 shops to prevent a monopoly. The CMA will now assess the deals. Ladbrokes and Coral said they would seek approval to complete the merger when they sell one more shop.

Ladbrokes chief executive, Jim Mullen, said: "The sale of these shops will clear the last significant hurdle to delivering on the merger with Coral and paves the way for our focus on completion and quickly delivering on the opportunities the merger offers."

William Hill, the current market leader, is also planning a multi-billion-pound merger with Canadian online gambling and gaming firm Amaya, although shareholders are against the deal.

Asset house Parvus, William Hill's largest shareholder, said the move had "limited strategic logic" and would "destroy shareholder value". The company advised William Hill to explore other options, including a sale of the business.

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