October 07, 2009

Ladbrokes deny 888.com bid, amid share price fluctuations

British bookmaker Ladbrokes has no current plans to bid for online rival 888 sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

A report in the Daily Mail newspaper on Tuesday cited market speculation of an imminent bid by Ladbrokes of 139 pence a share, valuing 888 at around 480 million pounds ($764 million). However, sources told Reuters no approach had been made and there was no prospect of one in the immediate future.

"It's rubbish. These are old rumours doing the rounds again," said one of the sources.
KBC Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram agreed that a deal is unlikely at the current time.
"Whilst I think Ladbrokes does have to do something strategic online, I think a bid for 888 at this point is highly unlikely. One reason is they haven't got the cash and, secondly, 888 wouldn't want the Ladbrokes paper," he said.

Ladbrokes and 888 declined comment on the speculation.

Shares in 888, which had gained as much as 6 percent, fell back to trade 1.2 percent up, before recovering to stand 2.9 percent higher at 93.15 pence at 1049 GMT. Ladbrokes was down 0.4 percent at 183.3 pence.

Ladbrokes held talks with 888 over a possible takeover in 2007 but the talks were terminated as complications relating to 888's past activities in the United States proved a stumbling block. ($1=.6279 Pound)

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