Bookmaker Gala Coral Group is busy preparing for its mega merger with rival Ladbrokes.
On Monday, the UK bookie announced it already completed the sale of its 130 bingo clubs for £241 million. The clubs were part of its Gala Bingo retail division, which the company sold to buyout firm Caledonia Investments plc in October.
Under the agreement, Gala Coral will retain both the Gala brand and the websites Gala Retail and Galabingo.com, and the bingo clubs will continue to trade under the Gala brand through a license agreement entered into by the two parties.
“The relationship between Gala Retail and Galabingo.com will be governed by a collaboration agreement which will ensure that the two businesses take full advantage of the multi-channel opportunity, already developed successfully by Coral,” Gala Coral said in a statement.
The bingo clubs have more than 1.1 million active members and an estimated 15 million admissions per year, according to the company. The bingo business has pulled in revenues of about £300 million in the past 12 months until September 2015.
The move comes as Gala prepares for its £2.3 billion merger with Ladbrokes. Shareholders the UK-listed bookmaker Ladbrokes already approved the merger, but it is still subject to approval from the Competition and Markets Authority.
With their merger, Ladbrokes Coral are poised to unseat William Hill as the country’s biggest bookmaker. In an interview with eGaming Review, Gala Coral digital boss Andy Hornby said “both brands will continue on the high street and all three brands [Coral, Gala and Ladbrokes] will continue online as part of the combined group.”
The sale of some of Coral’s units, however, is seen as an attempt to ease regulators’ concerns over the size of the gambling giant these two bookmakers are about to create.
“The disposal is another transformative step for Gala Coral, following the turnaround of the business over the past few years,” Gala Coral CEO Carl Leaver said in a statement. “Gala Coral remains focused on growing and developing our retail bookmaking and online businesses, and concluding the proposed merger with Ladbrokes.”