Foxy Bingo owner GVC on the hunt for more takeover targets as industry consolidates

Alys Key
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Foxy Bingo is one of the company's flagship brands (Source: Getty)

Foxy Bingo owner GVC Holdings said this morning it expects to play a "pivotal role" in consolidation of the online gambling industry, as it unveiled a jump in revenue for the first half.

Read more: Jackpot: GVC declares a second special divi thanks to Bwin acquisition

The figures

Net gaming revenue across all brands, which includes sports betting platforms as well as casino and gaming sites such as the well-known Foxy Bingo, grew 25 per cent to €486.2m (£432m).

Underlying earnings jumped 47 per cent to €133.9m.

Pre-tax losses amounted to €6.6m, a significant reduction on the €86.1m loss from the same period last year.

The group announced a dividend per share of 16.5 cents.

Shares were trading up 4.38 per cent this afternoon.

Why it's interesting

Analysts at Berenberg said the company was "one of our top picks in the gaming space", and raised its full-year estimates on the back of today's results, expecting underlying earnings of €273m. They added that this put the company in a strong position to make acquisitions.

Chief executive Kenny Alexander told City A.M. targets for acquisition would likely be in the lucrative sports betting side of the business.

Sports brands accounted for 98 per cent of the €2.3bn placed in sports wagers.

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He said any targets would "undoubtedly be in sports", and that he thought it would "be in a regulated market and it will be in a market we're either not in at the moment or where we're below target market share."

"Our number one focus is organic opportunity," he said. "But I think we're in the strongest position of any gaming group out there, and if we can deliver value like we did with the acquisition of Bwin then we won't hesitate to explore it".

GVC has tried twice to woo Ladbrokes Coral into a takeover, but has yet to be successful.

The gambling industry has been swept by a wave of M&A this year as companies hunker down in the face of tighter regulation. Online companies including 888 are facing tougher enforcement on gambling controls in the UK

What GVC said

Alexander was laid back about tighter regulation when speaking to City A.M. this morning.

"The review into fixed odds betting terminals won't affect us in any way, and the UK is only nine per cent of our business so we have less exposure to that market," he said.

"The vast majority of markets are gradually regulating, and we tend to get a license in every market if we can."

Read more: Should the chancellor block the crackdown on fixed odd betting terminals?

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