Hills throws spanner into the works of Ladbrokes-Coral merger

Hills throws spanner into the works of Ladbrokes-Coral merger

Friday, February 19, 2016 Totally Gaming
Competition complaint submitted to regulator

It emerged on Friday that William Hill has written to the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urge the watchdog to reject the proposed merger deal between rival bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral.

First announced in July of last year, the agreement would lead to the creation of a combined entity worth approximately £2.3bn (€3bn/$3.3bn). The new company would also boast a network of 4,000 retail points in the UK, although some of the shops would be closed as part of the deal.

While both Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have been openly optimistic about the deal, some operators have raised concerns over the impact it could have on the level of competition in the UK industry.

William Hill is the latest to air its views, stating in a submission filed with the CMA that the merger would have a negative impact on the UK betting market. The bookmaker said that the agreement would lead to a “substantial lessening of competition”.

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have responded to criticism surrounding the deal by outlining the UK betting landscape has changed a lot in recent years due to the ongoing growth of online and digital gambling.

However, William Hill hit back at this argument by stating there would not be enough measures in place to “eliminate or even significantly mitigate the loss of competition resulting from the merger”.

Since November, as reported by TotallyGaming.com, regulators have been the only obstacle to the merger taking place.

The CMA, which in 1998 blocked a similar attempt by Ladbrokes and Gala Coral to merge, is currently undertaking an investigation of the proposed deal after it opted to fast track the process in order to reach a verdict faster.

The watchdog will confirm its decision before the end of June. Ladbrokes' share price on the London Stock Exchange was down by 2.6% by 2pm today.

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