When the chips are down: Ladbrokes Coral eyes merger options

Courtney Goldsmith
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Will Ladborkes Coral cast its bet on a merger? (Source: Getty)

Bookmaking giant Ladbrokes Coral has brought in City advisers to weigh up merger options amid a tumultuous period for the industry, according to reports.

The company has retained Greenhill, Deutsche Bank and UBS to review its options, including a sale to GVC Holdings, following the expected outcome of a government review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the Sunday Times reported.

FOBTs are huge money makers for bookies including Ladbrokes, with players allowed to bet as much as £100 every two seconds, but campaigners against the machines have called them the "crack cocaine of gambling". The government is expected to recommend cutting the limit to about £20.

Analysts have estimated about 35 per cent of Ladbrokes' net machine revenue is raked in by FOBTs.

Talks between GVC and Ladbrokes Coral of a more than £3bn merger broke down earlier this summer over regulatory concerns.

Some of the company's biggest shareholders, including hedge funds Apollo and Cerberus, were said to favour a sale to GVC.

GVC, which took over online gaming company Bwin last year, is working with bankers Houlihan Lokey and Investec on possible takeovers.

Ladbrokes Coral was not immediately available for comment.

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