British bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have agreed to merge in a £2.3bn deal that will create the nation’s biggest high street entity.
Ladbrokes’ current CEO Jim Mullen will become boss of the merged company, which will be listed on the stock exchange as Ladbrokes Coral.
Ladbrokes has been ailing in recent years, struggling to keep up with rival William Hill, particularly online. By combining its forces with Gala’s digital division and Italian operation, the retailer has a competitive edge that will include circa 4,000 shops over the latter’s 2,400 store count.
“This is a major strategic step for Ladbrokes which firmly accelerates our strategy to improve the customers’ experience and build recreational scale,” said Ladbrokes chairman Peter Erskine. “Ladbrokes and Coral are two highly complementary businesses, with rich heritage and brand presence across the UK and internationally.”
Because the new business will be a dominant player in the betting shops space, you can bet your bottom dollar that that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will get involved.
“Both Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are confident that the merger is deliverable and are committed to working closely with the CMA in its review,” the companies said on Friday, although they anticipate that the estate portfolio will need to downsize in order to “satisfy potential CMA requirements”.