Talk about third time’s the charm.
UK-listed gambling operator GVC Holding is taking over rival Ladbrokes Coral Group for a sum of £3.9 billion ($5.2 billion).
Citing two industry sources, Reuters reported that Lads Coral and GVC are finally seeing eye-to-eye after the latter’s two failed attempts to acquire the British bookmaker in December 2016 and early 2017. According to the report, the firms are close to agreeing on the final terms of the deal and are expected to make their formal announcement any time.
The talks between GVC and Ladbrokes come at a time when the betting industry braces itself for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) restrictions. FOBTs have been the bread and butter of some British bookmakers, including Ladbrokes.
Rumors that GVC was pursuing Ladbrokes for the third time started in November, when the owner of the Sportingbet, Bwin and Foxy Bingo brands announced that it sold its Turkish-facing business Headlong Limited to Ropso Malta Ltd. for €150 million ($174.9 million).
One of the contentious issues that both GVC and Ladbrokes were reportedly trying to iron out is the former’s businesses in unregulated markets like Turkey. Though profitable, unregulated markets are unstable and subject to sudden clampdowns.
With the disposal of Headlong, GVC’s revenue from “grey” markets will fall around 25 percent.
If the renewed talks between the two parties go as planned, GVC is set to hold 53.5 percent of the combined group while the deal will give Ladbrokes shareholders around 46.5 percent.
GVC’s chief executive Kenny Alexander will reportedly lead the newly formed company if the takeover comes to fruition. Both companies have also taken into account the FOBT restrictions with GVC offering Ladbrokes Coral shareholders a so-called contingent value right (CVR), as well as cash and stock. According to the report, the structure of the deal remains the same as announced two weeks ago.