UK – Gala Coral and Ladbrokes must sell up to 400 LBOsBy Phil - 27 July 2016
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has ruled that Ladbrokes and Gala Coral will have to offload up to 400 licensed betting shops if they want to go ahead with their proposed £2.2bn merger.
The Competition and Markets Authority said that operating more than 4,000 betting shops in the UK would create a problem but that offloading 350 and 400 shops across 642 local areas would “result in a substantial lessening of competition.”
Martin Cave, the CMA’s inquiry chair, said: “Although online betting has grown substantially in recent years, the evidence we’ve seen confirms that a significant proportion of customers still choose to bet in shops — and many will continue to do so after the merger. We therefore believe that a sale of shops of this scale is needed to protect these customers.”
The number is around 10 per cent of the combined group’s estate but is lower than expected and was welcomed by both groups.
Gala Coral said: “Gala Coral Group welcomes the announcement by the CMA that the merger of the Coral Group with Ladbrokes PLC can proceed subject to the sale of between 350-400 shops. Discussions with potential buyers can now accelerate, and we remain on track to complete the merger in the autumn.”
Ladbrokes added: “Ladbrokes welcomes the announcement by the CMA that the merger with the Coral Group can proceed subject to the sale of 350 to 400 shops. This is a significant step forward and we will now begin to talk in earnest to potential buyers for these shops. We remain on track to complete the merger in the autumn.”