Ladbrokes Coral and GVC are finally cementing their merger as the UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has finally given the all-clear for the transaction to go through.
GVC Acquisition Will Have Massive Impact
High street bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral confirmed the rumours in late 2017 that they are being acquired by rival GVC Holdings. The deal was priced at £4 billion, where GVC will be owning 53.5 percent of the merged company. The approval from the CMA comes as a win for Ladbrokes Coral who has seen two previous attempts to merge fail in 2017. One must remember that in 2016, Ladbrokes completed a £2.3-billion merger with Gala Coral that massively increased the market potential of Ladbrokes.
GVC Chief Executive Kenneth Alexander will be in charge of heading the merged company while Ladbrokes’s Paul Bowtell will be taking the position of chief financial officer. The new company will encompass Ladbrokes’s high street and online operations and GVC’s brands Foxy Bingo, PartyCasino, and Sportingbet.
The merger is expected to result in at least £100 million in savings a year for the company and will result in the dissolution of as many as 1,600 jobs at Ladbrokes Coral.
On top of the perceived number of lay-offs, many believe that the merger will create an online global gambling giant which has raised concerns and gained the attention of the competition watchdog.
Competition Watchdog Carries Out Detailed Review
Back in December 2017, CMA started a review of the Ladbrokes Coral and GVC acquisition to investigate whether the move will lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the British gambling landscape. The CMA has been the primary regulator in investigating acquisitions and joint ventures, responsible for making sure that rivals who are joining together won’t lessen market competition, which can lead to a raise in prices of their product.
But not all mergers are investigated by CMA. The regulator’s jurisdiction covers “relevant merger situations” where three criteria are met: two or more enterprises will be brought together in a merger, the merger has yet to take place or has been together for not longer than four months, and either the turnover costs at least £70 million or the combined businesses will have significant market presence of at least 25 percent of the market.
Earlier this year, CMA blocked an acquisition of media company Sky by Rupert Murdoch after the company found that the takeover will result in the Murdoch family having too much power over public opinion. Murdoch already owns 21st Century Fox, and newspapers The Sunday Times, The Sun, and The Times. Taking over Sky will give him a much larger access to company’s extensive television, internet, and phone businesses in the UK, which CMA says is “not in the public interest.”
In other parts of the world, mergers of gambling companies are also being reviewed, such as in the case of Australian wagering, gaming and Keno operator Tabcorp and lottery group Tatts. The A$6.15 billion (US$4.9 billion) acquisition of Tatts by Tabcorp was blocked by the Australian Federal Court in September 2017.
CMA Happy To Approve Merger
According to the CMA, they have allowed the merger to go through since it would not endanger competition or prices in the sector. They also added that the two companies are not close rivals, and that there are many other competitors and providers in the market offering similar services.
In a statement, CMA said, “The probe looked closely at betting services for individual sports and individual games but found that, in all cases, there will be enough rivals to the merged entity to prevent price increases or a reduced quality of service as a result of the merger.”
Shareholders of GVC were largely in favor of the merger, where a poll at GVC’s EGM showed that 99.97% of shareholders voted in favour of the acquisition. Ladbrokes shareholders have also been very responsive towards the move and unanimously recommended the GVC offer, according to John Kelly, chairman of Ladbrokes Coral.
In addition to their approval, CMA said that the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) that will be run by the new company should be cut to a £30 limit, which is higher than what was expected.
The acquisition still remains subject to the Court’s approval, which is scheduled for March 26. Should GVC and Ladbrokes Coral get the final approval from the Court, the said deal will be finalized by March 28 and joint shares will trade as early as the following day.
 

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.