Ladbrokes Coral in talks over takeover by GVC

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It would also get a potential further value of up to 42.8p, depending on the outcome of the United Kingdom government's Triennial Review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOTBS) and its impact on profits.

Gambling giant Ladbrokes Coral is in "detailed" talks over a takeover by online rival GVC over a deal that could value the group at up to £3.9bn.

The news comes after the Financial Times newspaper in October reported that a merger deal between the two companies was close.

The possible offer for Ladbrokes Coral would include 32.7p per share in cash as well as 0.141 GVC shares for each Ladbrokes Coral share.

GVC, which also owns Sportingbet and PartyCasino, has tabled a cash-and-shares approach valuing Ladbrokes at 160.9p a share, with loan notes on top worth an extra 42.8p a share.

In addition, the companies have agreed that should the deal go through, Kenneth Alexander, now chief executive of GVC, would take on the same role at the enlarged group.

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The government has said the maximum stake allowed in FOBTs could be sharply cut over concerns that the terminals fuel addiction.

"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 two said in the statement.

"The enlarged group would be an online-led globally positioned betting and gaming business that would benefit from a multi-brand, multi-channel strategy applied across some of the strongest brands in the sector", the companies said.

The tie-up would put the newly formed group in a strong position in major markets such as the UK, Italy and Australia, it added.

The shares of Ladbrokes Coral rose 25 per cent following the announcement, while those of GVC climbed 7 per cent.

GVC said it expects the deal would results in "material synergies which will create value for both sets of shareholders" and that it will increase earnings per share by a double-digit rate from the first full year post-completion. Ladbrokes Coral, whose traditional betting shops in the U.K.'s town centers are fading, would get more exposure to the expanding digital gaming business, while GVC could reach more potential customers for its online platforms. Last year GVC bought Btwin.party, while Ladbrokes and Coral merged.

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