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GVC denies report related to company's sale of Turkish business

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By Reuters
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(Reuters) – Online gaming company GVC Holdings Plc <GVC.L> on Monday denied a report that Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Alexander last year sold the company’s Turkish unit to a business partner to push through the acquisition of rival Ladbrokes.

GVC disposed its Turkey business for no charge to a firm called Ropso Malta in 2018 and said it would book a 46 million euro loss on the sale after lenders for the Ladbrokes deal baulked at its exposure to a country where internet betting is illegal.

Ropso is backed by individuals that provided IT services for its Turkish business. It was incorporated five days before GVC announced the sale of its Turkish assets to the company, according to the Maltese company filings seen by Reuters.

GVC had initially agreed to sell the business for as much as 150 million euros (£148.5 million), before it struck the much bigger Ladbrokes deal.

The company, however, said on Monday the Turkish business was sold following a competitive process overseen by investment bank Houlihan Lokey and that all details were fully disclosed in previous announcements.

“Board also categorically refutes suggestions that the group, or senior management, continue to benefit from any operations servicing the Turkish market,” GVC said.

Shares of the company fell as much as 8.2% on Monday before paring losses after GVC put out a statement in response to the media report.

GVC shares closed down 7% at 629 pence.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)