Racing: BHB backs Ladbrokes' takeover of Coral

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The Independent Online
JOHN McCRIRICK, Channel 4 Racing's caricature of a betting pundit, nevertheless spoke for many yesterday when reacting angrily to the British Horseracing Board's decision to sanction Ladbrokes' takeover of Coral.

Tristram Ricketts, the chief executive of the BHB, said: "BHB has advised the OFT that, in seeking to assess the impact of the merger on competition in the betting industry, it took note that Ladbrokes has agreed to sell 133 betting offices to the Tote."

But McCririck was quick to go on the offensive, saying: "Nothing more exemplifies the spineless leadership of the BHB. Not for the first time, they are unable to take into account the well-being of racing - hardly surprising without a punter or bookmaker on the BHB.

"Hopefully the Office of Fair Trading realises that fair trading is sabotaged when more than 36 per cent of a huge industry is in the hands of one group. Now it is up to the OFT, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the President of the Board of Trade, Margaret Beckett, and not racing's discredited rulers to ensure that punters have a wide choice and healthy competition."

Ian Davies