Ladbrokes shareholders approve Coral merger

ladbrokesimageLadbrokes shareholders have voted in favour of the company’s merger with fellow bookmaker Coral at the group’s extraordinary general meeting held in London this morning.

More than 90% of those eligible to vote gave their consent to the deal, despite public criticism of the bid from Irish shareholder Dermot Desmond.

Desmond continued his criticism of the deal and of Ladbrokes’ board and management.

Reuters reported that during his speech at the meeting Desmond said shareholders understood his views.

“In these discussions it has become clear that while most have placed their proxy in favor of the resolutions, they have huge sympathy with the points we raised and are voting for the Coral transaction out of a sense of frustration and resignation with the current board and management,” he said. “I share their frustration, but not their resignation.” 

The deal is still to receive regulatory approval, with the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) almost certain to launch an investigation.

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral in July announced their proposed merger, which would create a combined entity worth approximately £2.3 billion (€3.2 billion/$3.6 billion).

Both businesses said they expect the newly branded ‘Ladbrokes Coral’ operation to boast net revenue of £2.1 billion as well as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £392 million, excluding cost synergies of at least £65 million.

The merger was not universally welcomed by analysts, with Irish billionaire Desmond – who owns around 3% of Ladbrokes – last week saying there “were smarter deals the firm could have done” such as a sale of just Ladbrokes.  

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