Sportingbet’s trading ticks up ahead of sale

ONLINE bookie Sportingbet said yesterday that trading has been back on track in recent weeks, following a disappointing set of first-quarter results that preceded William Hill and GVC Holdings cutting their offer for the company.

In a trading update before yesterday’s annual meeting, Sportingbet said the group had “seen a return to more normal levels of activity in November and in the first half of December”, following “challenging” conditions in the previous quarter.

Sportingbet’s first-quarter results had raised worries about its lucrative Australian business, and an agreed price of £530m was cut to £485m a few days after the results.

However, yesterday’s update will have reassured the bidders about the strength of the business, especially in Australia where amounts wagered were up 11 per cent year-on-year. Sportingbet shares rose 2.6 per cent, although those close to the deal batted away suggestions that the cost of the acquisition would be revised ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.

Sportingbet, William Hill and GVC extended a deadline for the bidders to make a formal offer on Tuesday. They now have until 5pm tomorrow to finalise a bid.

Meanwhile, Sportingbet’s annual meeting yesterday saw one third of shares either vote against or abstain over the company’s executive remuneration plan. Around 300m votes were in favour of the plan, while 82m opposed it and 63m abstained.

It came after shareholder advisory group Pirc opposed the plan.