UK gambling companies Ladbrokes and Gala Coral today announced that they have finally completed their merger, creating a new gambling giant with sports betting and gaming operations across multiple channels and in multiple jurisdictions.
Former Ladbrokes CEO, Jim Mullen, has taken over the new entity’s reins. Coral Chief Executive, Carl Leaver, has taken the Executive Deputy Chairman post at Ladbrokes Coral.
Under the multi-billion-pound deal Ladbrokes is merging with several of Gala Coral’s brands, including Coral Retail and Eurobet Retail as well as the operator’s online division. The merger became effective as of this morning. On Monday, Ladbrokes announced the change of name to Ladbrokes Coral Group plc in anticipation for the deal’s completion.
Of the deal’s closure, Mr. Mullen said that that it marks the beginning of an exciting journey that will see the combined business “compete hard and win in increasingly competitive markets.”
Ladbrokes Coral is now officially the owner of UK’s largest chain of betting shops. The company manages around 1,700 high street outlets around the nation.
Mr. Leaver added that Gala Coral has worked diligently to establish itself as one of the best performing operators in the sector. The official added that by combining its operations with Ladbrokes’, they will be able to place the merged entity into an excellent position to fulfill their ambition of creating UK’s largest betting and gaming business.
Betting shops were, in fact, one of the main reasons for the merger’s delay. The deal was first announced last summer but it took more than a year for it to be sealed. Earlier this year, the UK Competition and Markets Authority conducted a review on the proposed Ladbrokes-Coral consolidation, concluding that the two bookmakers would have to dispose of up to 400 retail facilities.
The competition watchdog argued that otherwise, there would be too much betting shops owned by a single company in certain high street areas and that this would lead to limited choice for gambling customers and other competition-related issues.
Last month, Ladbrokes and Coral announced that they would sell 360 betting shops, a move that was given the green light by the CMA last week. The issue was actually the last one to prevent the merger deal from eventually being closed after more than a year in the making.
Ladbrokes Coral is trading on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LCL. The company was brought to life with a market capitalization of a little less than £2.6 billion. Morgan Stanley analysts believe that the new gambling operator will deliver an earnings growth rate of 23% between 2017 and 2019. The surge is believed to be driven by growth in digital business, synergies stemming from the merger, and strong cash generation.