Ladbrokes Coral Group could be in line to launch a bid for Australian betting company Tabcorp, in a deal worth over £2bn.
Advisers for the bid have been hired, according to reports in the Mail on Sunday. Ladbrokes Coral Group declined to comment.
Tabcorp, which reported a market capitalisation of AU$3.8 (around £2.3bn) in its latest annual report, operates brands such as Tab.com and Sky Racing in Australia. It also has recent experience operating in the United Kingdom, where it partners with the Sun newspaper.
A deal would threaten a planned deal between Tabcorp and fellow Australian bookmaker Tatts Group. That deal – which would also need to satisfy competition regulators in Australia – was announced on 19 October.
The merger would create Australia’s biggest betting company and would better enable defence against overseas rivals trying to gain market share in the country’s lucrative betting industry.
If Tatts shareholders agree, the deal could be completed by mid-2017, according to Tabcorp.
Tabcorp announced Friday that it has entered an equity swap for 10 per cent of Tatts’ shares.
An acquisition would closely follow significant consolidation in the UK betting industry, after Ladbrokes merged with Coral earlier this year. That merger was expected to save £65m per year.
Any deal for Tabcorp would further strengthen Ladbrokes Coral’s presence in Australia. The group had pointed to their “rapidly growing” Australian online operation as an important factor in the Ladbrokes/Coral merger.
That merger had attracted the attention of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which finally approved the Ladbrokes merger on 26 October. Completion of the deal was dependent on Ladbrokes and Coral selling 359 UK shops to rivals Betfred and Stan James.