WorldSpreads sells Irish unit to finance expansion strategy

SPREADBETTING firm WorldSpreads said yesterday it has agreed to sell its Irish division to strengthen its financial position and fund expansion into more lucrative international markets.<br /><br />WorldSpreads said it would sell the business to OR Spreadbetting, a company owned by members of its Irish management team, for around &euro;9.9m (&pound;8.5m) in cash plus the proceeds from selling 1.9m shares belonging to its Irish executives.<br /><br />The group plans to expand into a variety of countries including Spain, Poland, Hungary and Greece, where profit contribution is higher and competition more scarce. It also cited concerns over the effect of the weakening in the Irish underlying economy.<br /><br />&ldquo;The board believes that the proposed sale of the Irish business would deliver to the company many of the cost rationalisations sought from the proposed overhead review without the expense associated with a costly redundancy programme and without the staff of the Irish business losing their jobs,&rdquo; WorldSpreads said in a statement.<br /><br />Collins Stewart analyst Paul Leyland reiterated his &ldquo;buy&rdquo; recommendation on the stock and claimed the move was &ldquo;compelling and logical&rdquo;.