Emerging megalith GVC Holdings PLC, winner of the battle for bwin.party, and takeovers of Betboo and Sportingbet has now seen Ladbrokes Coral accept an offer worth up to £4bn. The Foxy Bingo owner will control over 53% of the newly formed group if regulators approve the deal.
Ladbrokes has nearly 4,000 betting shops on land and GVC’s online presence will create a positive momentum that some believe is nearly unstoppable. The company is shouldering its way to the top amid a rash of mergers and acquisitions that are consolidating power in an industry that enjoys the protection of regulators as the monopolies build.
It is anyone’s guess what the resulting actions of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) October report will be (.PDF). And while many assume that the UK will end up reducing the current limits on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBT) it could be that they will be banned altogether. However, GVC has worked all possibilities into the purchase price.
Aside from the margins accounted for on paper, the acquisition may make sense as a strategic gamble considering the possibility that the US market might open to legal sports betting when the Supreme Court adjourns in 2018. As well, the control of over 3,700 in-person betting shops, even with £2 FOTBs along with Gala Coral online assets is a coup that GVC couldn’t have hoped for before Ladbrokes took over Gala Coral a mere year ago.
Ladbrokes Coral believes that “It secures earlier delivery of our long-term value potential, which is why the board of Ladbrokes Coral has unanimously recommended GVC’s offer,” according to a report by the UK Guardian.
Synergies are expected to amount to a scant £100m annually while £800m was added to the purchase price based on certain conditions. The full price is a 19.1% premium on Ladbrokes Coral shares upon close of market on Friday. The final settled price will depend upon the 3-year review of FOBTs. The deal is expected to move GVC from the FTSE 250 into the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange. The FTSE 100 index companies have over £394 billion in market cap combined.
The agreement marks the third attempt at a takeover and if the FOBT become worthless to the deal, at £2 bets, GVC will still assume the company at £3.2bn, which values the triennial review results at £800m, roughly the same as the company’s current annual revenue.