Ladbrokes says consolidation talks with 888 Holdings have been terminated, meaning five or more months of discussions have been a complete waste of time for both companies. The announcement that the marriage was off came despite rumors earlier this week that Ladbrokes was preparing to up its 70p/share bid for 888 in an attempt to satisfy the demands of 888’s majority stakeholders. The decision to scuttle the talks must also be something of a surprise to 888’s outgoing CEO Gigi Levy, who just yesterday told analysts that “The Ladbrokes deal is still alive, still an option.” Guess that’s why Levy’s the ex-CEO – nobody apparently saw fit to tell him anything.
Along with their royal un-wedding bombshell, Ladbrokes also released its most recent quarterly figures, which showed a 2.3% revenue rise and a 1.9% boost in operating profit (excluding high rollers). Operating profit from high rollers was £4.9m, off sharply from £12.9m the year before. If you choose to look at the period from Feb. 16 forward (and Ladbrokes management would really prefer that you did), revenue was up 4.2% year on year. Retail gross win from the machines in Lads’ shops was up 14.9%.
Ladbrokes also cut its net debt by £48.7m to £443.3m, but CEO Richard Glynn warned that the company expects “the economic climate in the UK to remain challenging in 2011 with consumer confidence and disposable incomes continuing to suffer.” However, the incomes of Ladbrokes’ lawyers no doubt didn’t suffer over the past quarter, despite the lack of result from all those meetings with 888’s attorneys, who also presumably ‘earned’ a nice payday. Next?