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UK: Desmond blasts £2bn Coral merger as the ‘death of Ladbrokes’

 |  November 19, 2015

The Irish billionaire and Ladbrokes’ shareholder Dermot Desmond launched a blistering attack on the bookmaker’s planned £2bn merger with rival Coral, warning that it was “the wrong deal” for the business.

Mr Desmond – worth an estimated €1.5bn – is known as Ireland’s answer to Warren Buffett, having built up his fortune in a career spanning nearly 40 years. He co-owns the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados with fellow Irish tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, and is the largest shareholder in Celtic, the Glasgow football club.

He has been a investor in the boomaker for nine years, holding a stake of about 1 per cent. But in an open letter to fellow shareholders, he said the deal was “effectively the death of Ladbrokes” as an independent company.

He attacked John Kelly – who would be chairman of the combined business – for an “abject” performance as chairman of Gala Coral, and Ladbrokes’ chairman Peter Erskine for leading the bookmaker down a “disastrous path”.

“Ladbrokes’ shareholders should instruct the board to properly evaluate all strategic options open to it before committing to what I believe is the wrong deal,” he added.

Full content: The Guardian

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