Ladbrokes last night confirmed it was in merger talks with rival bookie Gala Coral in a deal to create the UK’s largest gambling company.
The FTSE-250 listed firm, which has 2,150 betting shops across the UK, said it was weighing plans to buy Gala Coral’s 1,800 Coral betting shops, its online business and Italian brand Eurobet.
No price was disclosed. Ladbrokes said it could launch a share placing to raise cash from investors to strengthen its balance sheet if a deal is reached.
“My plans are well advanced and I look forward to presenting them to shareholders,” Ladbrokes boss Jim Mullen said. “A merger with Gala Coral could create a combined business with significant scale and has the potential to generate substantial cost synergies, creating value for both companies’ shareholders.”
A deal would put Ladbrokes well ahead of William Hill – which has over 2,400 shops – as the UK’s largest betting company, but this could prompt scrutiny from competition regulators.
Gala Coral’s Gala Bingo is not part of the deal, Ladbrokes said last night.