Coral and Ladbrokes must sell shops for the merger to go ahead
PICTURE: Jay Vincent
THE Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed that Coral and Ladbrokes must sell around 350 to 400 of their betting shops to gain clearance for their proposed merger.
The CMA’s report, which was released on Tuesday morning, identified 642 local areas where it may be expected that a merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition, which could lead to a worsening of the offer made to customers.
‘Would reduce competition’
Martin Cave, the inquiry chair, said: “We’ve found that the merger between two of the largest bookmakers in the country would reduce competition and choice for customers in a large number of local areas.
“For these customers, competition comes from the choice of shops in their local area and they would lose out from any reduction of competition and choice.”
Cave also stated that there were concerns about the impact a merger would have on a national level. He added: “Such a widespread reduction in competition at the local level could also worsen those elements that are set centrally, such as odds and betting limits.”
Ladbrokes have around 2,150 betting shops in Great Britain and 77 in Northern Ireland, while Coral have around 1,850 bettting shops in Great Britain.
The sales must be substantially completed before the merger can go ahead and the shops must be sold to “suitably-qualified up-front buyers” approved by the CMA.
A short statement from Gala Coral, in reaction to the CMA’s findings, said: “Gala Coral Group welcomes the announcement by the CMA that the merger of the Coral Group with Ladbrokes PLC can proceed subject to the sale of between 350-400 shops.
“Discussions with potential buyers can now accelerate, and we remain on track to complete the merger in the autumn.”
Ladbrokes also released an upbeat statement and hailed the CMA’s findings as “a significant step forward”.
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