888: Ladbrokes deal is on track

Online gaming firm 888 said yesterday that it remains hopeful of being taken over by rival Ladbrokes after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue.

The group said operating profit increased 18 per cent on the previous quarter to $71m (£44m).

The performance was boosted by a turnaround in the performance of the group’s poker business following a relaunch in the middle of last year.

888 was hit hard by a sharp decrease in demand for online poker, seeing its share value fall a staggering 58 per cent over 12 months.

Chief executive Gigi Levy said: “Our marketing activities have driven record numbers of players to our sites, and growth was achieved across our business lines. We are very pleased with the results delivered during the last quarter of 2010, especially the record 18 per cent quarterly sequential growth.”

He added that negotiations with Ladbrokes are continuing and there are no major obstacles in the way of a deal, contradicting claims the two sides could not agree on a price.