Ladbrokes Coral Merger To Force Some Betting Shops Closures
A number of betting shops may be sold after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) conditionally approved the £2.3 billion merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group.
The new Ladbrokes Coral Group will replace William Hill as the largest bookmaker in the country by the end of this year if it completes the sale of 350 to 400 betting shops to CMA-approved buyers, around 10% of the combined estate.
The combined group will control more than 4,000 licensed betting offices while William Hill currently operators 2,400.
The CMA has identified 642 local areas where the merger could hamper competition and in these areas the group will have to sell off some of its betting shops.
Under the terms of the merger Jim Mullen, Ladbrokes’ chief executive officer, will run the combined company in the same role. He has been with the company since he joined from William Hill in 2013 to run Ladbrokes’ digital operations. He replaced Richard Glynne as chief executive in March 2015.
Joining him will be former HBOS and Alliance Boots chief executive Andy Hornby who is the chief operating office at Coral. Gala Coral’s chief executive officer Carl Leaver will be the executive deputy chairman for a year after completion.
The CMA said that it has no concerns over the impact on the online market where there is already such a plethora of gambling services that it means there will not be a substantial lessening of competition.
In a statement, Ladbrokes said: “This is a significant step forward and we will now begin to talk in earnest to potential buyers for these shops.” Coral added that “discussions with potential buyers can now accelerate”.