Tuesday 24 October 2017

Watchdogs assess Ladbrokes-Gala merger

Ladbrokes, above, and Coral announced plan last summer. Photo: Bloomberg
Ladbrokes, above, and Coral announced plan last summer. Photo: Bloomberg
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The planned £2bn (€2.6bn) merger between UK betting group Ladbrokes and parts of the Gala Coral has been notified to the Irish competition watchdog.

The companies announced the planned merger last summer.

Billionaire Dermot Desmond, who owns more than 1pc of Ladbrokes, has railed against the plan.

He had urged Ladbrokes' shareholders to reject what he had claimed would be a "disastrous path" for the company.

But shareholders in Ladbrokes approved the deal in November.

Mr Desmond has held a stake in Ladbrokes for over nine years and received additional shares in Ladbrokes when he sold his Betdaq betting exchange in 2013 to the company.

Yesterday the proposed merger was notified to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission here.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has also set out the issues it will examine in its probe into the planned merger.

However, the CMA said yesterday that it won't further investigate if software provider Playtech, which owns almost 10pc of Ladbrokes, might favour the merged entity at the expense of rivals. "Irrespective of whether Playtech may have the ability to completely or partially foreclose other betting and gaming operators, Playtech currently has no incentive to do so and its increased shareholding in Ladbrokes does not appear likely to change its incentives," the CMA said.

The UK watchdog is accepting submissions until February 18, and has its statutory deadline for making a decision on the merger is June 24.

Paddy Power and Betfair completed their merger this week.

Irish Independent

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