Ladbrokes and Coral agree sale of 359 betting shops to allay competition fears

Regulators had ordered the sale after finding that the deal could lead to a worsening of comptition

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The Independent Online

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have overcome the “last significant hurdle” to their £2.7bn merger by offloading 359 betting shops in an attempt to allay competition fears.

Betfred will pay £55m for 322 high street bookmakers shops, while Stan James is set to buy the other 37 for  £500,000.

Regulators ordered the sale after finding that the deal could “lead to a worsening of the offer made to customers at both a local and national level” in the gambling market.

Following the sale, the Competition and Markets Authority will now decide whether to approve the deal, which would create the country’s biggest bookmaker with around 4,000 betting shops.

Ladbrokes boss Jim Mullen said: “The sale of these shops will clear the last significant hurdle to delivering on the merger with Coral and paves the way for our focus on completion and quickly delivering on the opportunities the merger offers.”

Gala Coral and Ladbrokes announced the merger last year, in a deal that will see the combined firm overtake William Hill as the country’s largest bookmaker. 

The current market leader is itself planning a £4.5bn mega-merger with Canadian operator Amaya, owner of the Poker Stars franchise.

William Hill is understood to be keen to push the deal through despite its largest shareholder, Parvus expressing misgivings. Parvus said last week the deal would “destroy shareholder value” and had “limited strategic logic”.

Additional reporting by PA