888 figures slump but Ladbrokes talks still on

ONLINE betting website 888 said bid talks with rival Ladbroke were ongoing as it reported a steep fall in 2010 profits, hit by falling poker revenues and an increased marketing spend.

888 has been discussing a possible takeover by British bookmaker Ladbrokes since December. It was said that talks between the pair were ongoing and that a further announcement would be made when appropriate.

888, which offers gamblers the chance to play casino, poker and bingo games online and also provides software to companies including Harrah’s Entertainment, said its 2010 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) fell 37 per cent to £18m and revenues grew six per cent to £163m. Market expectations for 2010 Ebitda averaged £16.8m, according to consensus forecasts.

The company said trade in the first-quarter of 2011 had begun strongly with average daily revenues increasing by around seven per cent in the fourth-quarter of 2010.

Chief executive Gigi Levy said: “After a challenging start to the year, 888 finished 2010 strongly. 888 has begun the year with strong current trading and continues to make good progress across all sectors.”