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UK: Ladbrokes-Coral merger subject to in-depth competition probe

 |  January 11, 2016

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority on Monday said it has referred the proposed merger of bookmakers Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group Ltd to an in-depth phase two investigation.

The CMA said it had determined the merger of the pair would result in a substantial lessening of competition in terms of the number of stores the combined group would hold. It had been widely-anticipated when the merger was announced that Ladbrokes and Coral would have to offload some high-street shops given the size of the combined estate they will have.

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have a combined 4,500 stores, compared to the 2,400 stores of William Hill, the nearest competitor.

The CMA said while online betting has grown substantially in recent years, a significant proportion of customers continue to bet only in high street stores and the overlap of Ladbrokes and Coral stores would cut the level of competition for those punters’ business.

“As the second and third largest bookmakers in the country in terms of betting shops, the merger could affect competition in the very large number of areas where their shops overlap. As such it warrants an in-depth investigation so we can look in detail at these and other potential competition concerns,” said Andrea Coscelli, executive director of markets and mergers at the CMA and the man overseeing the case.

Full content: The Financial Times

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