Tuesday, 12 December, 2017

Ladbrokes Coral and GVC are back in "detailed" takeover talks

Ladbrokes Coral in talks over takeover by GVC Ladbrokes Coral shares soar on GVC takeover approach
Preston Stone | 07 December, 2017, 14:18

Ladbrokes Coral is in "detailed" talks over a takeover by online gambling rival and Foxy Bingo owner GVC in a deal worth up to £3.9bn.

Based on the share prices of the two companies at close of business on 6 December, the possible offer values Ladbrokes Coral at 160.9p per share, plus a CVR of up to 42.8p per share.

Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holding said that Thursday's announcement does not amount to a firm intention to make an official offer.

In a joint statement, the two firms said GVC's chief executive Kenneth Alexander would be the boss of the enlarged group.

On Thursday, they said GVC had made a non-binding cash and shares offer to Ladbrokes, with the final price determined by the outcome of the government's review into gambling machines in United Kingdom betting shops, which could hit profits at the target company.

GVC, the Isle of Man, owns online betting portals such as Bwin and Sportingbet.

The final price that GVC is prepared to pay for Ladbrokes depends on the outcome of the review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBs), which could see the maximum stake slashed to as little as £2 from £100 (€114).

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So the deal will give, Ladbrokes' investors access to a globally diversified digital gaming business while GVC can expand onto the United Kingdom high street.

Last month, GVC announced the sale of its Turkish subsidiary, removing a potential obstacle to a deal with Ladbrokes, which had raised this as one sticking point during August's talks.

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".

They added that the enlarged group would benefit from operating different brands across different markets including the UK, Italy and Australia. There could also be synergies from the deal, while the Board of GVC also believes that the transaction would be double digit EPS accretive from the first full year post-completion.

The merger would follow previous combinations like that of Paddy Power and Betfair as well as Ladbrokes with Coral.

"GVC got lucky at the third attempt and LCL shareholders can count their winnings", said analyst Neil Wilson at ETX Capital.

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