After 18 months of negotiations, British sportsbetting operators Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group Limited have completed their $2.81 billion merger to create the biggest retail bookmaker in the United Kingdom with some 3,500 shops.
In a filing with the London Stock Exchange, the pair revealed that their combined businesses, which are now targeting short-term cost synergies of $73.59 million to $85.85 million, will trade under the name Ladbrokes Coral Group although continue to operate as two distinct brands while maintaining their Gibraltar operational and customer service offices.
“In uniting these two businesses we are bringing together some of the best known and admired brands in betting and gaming,” said John Kelly, the former Chairman for Harrow-based Ladbrokes who is to serve in the same role for the larger Ladbrokes Coral Group. “We believe that no other gambling business has such a strong heritage with brands that enjoy such broad appeal and a presence that is woven into the fabric of the United Kingdom’s culture as well as overseas regulated markets. Together, we have the opportunity to grow the business building on our scale, the digital opportunity we have in our markets, our international presence and through delivery of significant synergy savings. We have a strong management team in place and are already well placed to set about the creation of a new business with a clear focus on delivering the opportunities the completion of the merger offers us.”
As part of prerequisites for the deal laid out by the Competition And Markets Authority regulator, last month saw the merging firms agree to offload 359 licensed betting shops to rivals Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Limited and Stan James (Abingdon) Limited. Ladbrokes Coral Group stated that Carl Leaver, the past Chief Executive Officer for Nottingham-based Gala Coral Group Limited, will now work as its Executive Deputy Chairman while the earlier boss at Ladbrokes, Jim Mullen, is to serve as its Chief Executive Officer.
“The team at Gala Coral [Group Limited] has worked tirelessly to turn around the fortunes of the company over the last few years and the business has been transformed into one of the best performing in the sector,” said Leaver. “Our merger with Ladbrokes brings new and exciting opportunities for both companies and, under the leadership of Jim Mullen, we are now in a position to make our ambition of creating the UK’s leading betting and gaming business a reality.”
Ladbrokes Coral Group is expected to be headquartered in London and has additionally appointed ex-Gala Coral Group Limited finance chief Paul Bowtell to serve as its Chief Financial Officer while experienced businessman Rob Templeman has become a Non-Executive Director.
“This is a historic day for the company and one that marks the start of an exciting journey for the business,” said Mullen. “Both Ladbrokes and Gala Coral [Group Limited] have demonstrated their abilities to compete hard and win in increasingly competitive markets. This will be the attitude of the management team going forward, to compete hard and set about quickly establishing the business while delivering the synergies as quickly as possible. We have a strong management team in place and have worked hard to secure the best talent from across both businesses and externally. We are all excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.”