GVC Shareholders Approve Ladbrokes Coral Merger

Posted by Costin Dinescu on 3:51 PM

Casino News Daily
GVC Shareholders Approve Ladbrokes Coral Merger

Shareholders of Isle of Man based gambling giant GVC Holdings PLC have voted in favor of a merger with Ladbrokes Coral PLC, the company announced on Thursday. The massive takeover which was announced in December 2017 is expected to generate cost synergies of at least £100 million a year.

Ahead of its annual earnings report which will be released on Friday, GVC Holdings said that at a general meeting, its shareholders almost unanimously favored the upcoming merger with its sister company Ladbrokes Coral. In December last year, GVC signed a deal for Ladbrokes Coral acquisition worth up to £4 billion.

It has made previous attempts to buy the British gambling firm in the past two years, but so far, it has not been successful due to Ladbrokes Coral’ unwillingness to enter unregulated markets. After GVC sold its Turkish asset Headlong Limited for £134 million to Ropso Malta Limited in November, it could proceed with the talks for acquiring the much larger Ladbrokes Coral.

The long-anticipated merger would become effective no earlier than March 28 provided the scheme is sanctioned by the court which will announce its decision on March 26. If the court grants an official approval for the agreement, the new combined business will start trading joint shares immediately, on March 29. According to the cash and stock agreement, GVC shareholders will own the majority share of 53.5%, while the remaining 46.5% of the combined company will be owned by Ladbrokes Coral.

The exact price paid will depend on the government’s review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). In a bid to decrease customers’ losses and tackle problem gambling, authorities are expected to reduce the maximum stake on the gambling machines from £100 to between £2 and £50. According to media reports, GVC will pay only £3.1 billion (its initial bid) if the maximum stake is cut to £2, but in case the max bet is reduced to £50, the company may end up paying approximately £3.9 billion.

GVC Holdings Cementing Its Position on the Gambling and Online Gambling Market

Currently, GVC Holdings is one of the major players in the industry with a revenue of €843.4 million for 2016 and several large subsidiaries, including Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and Sportingbet. The company owns famous brands such as partypoker, CasinoClub, FoxyCasino, and more. On March 5, GVC also announced that it had purchased 51 percent of Georgian casino, poker and betting site, Crystalbet for £38 million and an additional £90 million will be paid for full control over the company.

Should the Ladbrokes Coral deal be finalized, GVC will control its vast network of over 3,500 betting shops located across the United Kingdom. The British gambling operator generated a revenue of more than £1.5 billion in 2016 and held 16,685 job positions. While new opportunities will arrive for the joint company, a reduction of staff is also expected and up to 1,600 jobs may be cut from the two firms.

An ongoing inquiry of the Competition and Markets Authority into the agreement looks into the potential impact of the merger on the betting industry in the UK. The results of the inquiry will be released in early April which may cause a delay of the acquisition with a week or two.

The CMA also recommended that prior to the merger, the two separate entities should meet certain conditions in order to reduce any negative impact on the competition and customer choice. To comply with what was recommended, GVC Holdings and Ladbrokes Coral agreed to sell more than 400 retail shops and thus, to decrease its presence.

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