GVC Holdings outbids rival 888 in £1bn fight for Bwin.party

Bwin said the company was 'continuing to discuss with GVC and its advisers certain aspects' of the bid

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The Independent Online

Sportingbet owner GVC Holdings moved closer to a £1bn takeover of up-for-sale Bwin.party on Monday as it seeks to supplant bid rival 888 as the preferred choice of the company’s board.

GVC said “significant progress” had been made in talks with the Bwin.party board, putting it in a position to resubmit its offer shortly.

It is understood the company has reassured Bwin over the institutional support for the share placing it needs to fund the deal, as well as setting out more details on the €135m  (£98.6m) in cost savings it is pushing for through a tie-up.

GVC is offering 25p in cash and 0.231 of a share for every Bwin share – leaving the offer worth a total of 124p, slightly below the 125.5p when the terms were first announced three weeks ago.

Bwin said the company was “continuing to discuss with GVC and its advisers certain aspects” of the bid, but stressed that it was currently sticking to 888’s lower offer, which has eased from 104.9p to 102.5p since being recommended by the board in July. 888’s proposal has a bigger cash sweetener for investors, with 39.45p in cash on offer as well as 0.404 of an 888 share for Bwin.party shareholders.

Shares in Bwin closed down 1.6p at 112.7p on Monday, while 888 fell 1.25p to 156.75p.

Nick Batram, an analyst at Peel Hunt, said: “If GVC’s management can convince Bwin’s board and advisors that these synergies are real and deliverable, 888 will have to sweeten its own offer to emerge victorious.” Both firms report interim results later this week.

The takeover battle forms part of the explosion of deal making in the industry as  combatants attempt to negotiate the hurdles of more  burdensome regulation as  well as the Chancellor’s new point of consumption tax on online betting.