Ladbrokes and 888 Holdings Set to Merge in 2011?

Posted by Adam Grunwerg on Dec 24, 2010 Posted in Poker Industry News | No Comments »

Here’s some interesting news that should affect the UK/European online gaming market. According to the Financial Times newspaper, the massive UK bookmaker firm Ladbrokes is set for a takeover deal to buy 888 Holdings for a total value believed to be worth £240 million.

The deal, which according to speculates is will be worth 70p per share, sent the share price of 888 Holdings Plc rocketing.  Shares of 888 Holdings have increased 8.75p up to 57.75p over the last few days since the news came out – an increase of almost 18%.

Back in 2007, a similar deal was being brokered by the two firms.  Ladbrokes, who run over 2,200 high street bookies in the UK, were set to take over 888 Holdings at a rumoured offer price of 140p per share.  This deal fell through however due to changes in US legislation, notably because of the infamous UIGEA 2006 which made online gambling illegal in the US.  This would have heavily dented 888 Holdings operations across the Pacific and made the takeover a much less attractive deal to shareholders.

As always with public details, the CEOs from both sides have remained schtum about it. However, most business speculators appear to see the takeover as a foregone conclusion.  One analyst noted, “We believe a 70-pence offer should be a slam dunk for (888) investors, but see significant regulatory risk to a successful transaction given that 888 has not procured a non-prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice, which represents a potential poison pill.”

Party Gaming and Bwin have also announced that the planned merger between them is on course.  The merger would effectively make their poker site the 3rd largest in the world behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

In any case, European poker players should be seeing some interesting developments and changes over the course of the New Year!

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