British gambling firm GVC seals Ladbrokes takeover

British gambling firm GVC seals Ladbrokes takeover
FILE PHOTO: A branch of Ladbrokes is seen in central London, Britain, May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville /File Photo
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(Reuters) – British online gambling firm GVC<GVC.L> said on Friday it had agreed to buy bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral <LCL.L> for up to 4 billion pounds.

The owner of the Sportingbet, Bwin and Foxy Bingo brands said it would pay 32.7 pence in cash and 0.141 new GVC shares for each Ladbrokes share.

The final price GVC pays depends on the outcome of a review into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are moneyspinners for companies such as Ladbrokes but have come under fire for leaving gamblers with heavy losses.

Following a review, the government said in October that the maximum stake allowed on FOBTs could be slashed over concerns they fuel addiction. It started a 12-week consultation to consider cutting the stake to between 50 pounds and 2 pounds, from 100 pounds currently.

GVC’s offer values Ladbrokes Coral at 164.4 pence per share, equating to a total equity value of around 3.2 billion pounds, plus a contingent fee of up to 42.8 pence a share, meaning the bookmaker could be valued at about 4 billion pounds.

GVC announced this month it was in talks with betting shop operator Ladbrokes about a possible cash-and-shares takeover.

The merged company is expected to be big enough to enter the UK’s FTSE 100 index.

The deal is expected to close late in the first or early in the second quarter of 2018, GVC said.

(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; editing by Edmund Blair and Jason Neely)

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