RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

UK betting group confirms that it has received a preliminary takeover approach, but won't say from who

The British betting group Sportingbet plc, which earlier this week published encouraging results showing a recovery from the ravages of the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, is this week the subject of a possible takeover.

The UK business media has been speculating that the other party could be the Austrian public company bwin, but although Sportingbet spokesmen declared that talks were in progress, they declined to identify the other party.

The latest announcement to the stock exchange by Sportingbet did disclose anything new, saying that further announcements will be made in due course. Bwin spokesmen refused to add anything new, adding fuel to the speculative media fire. "We don't exclude the possibility of purchases,'' Bwin spokesman Konrad Sveceny said, though he declined to comment specifically on the reports. He added that the company expects ``consolidation in the European market."


As InfoPowa went to press with this bulletin the news was just out that bwin has confirmed it is the party interested in acquiring Sportingbet.

Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, an Austrian Internet gambling company, said in a statement that it's in talks to buy Sportingbet Plc. The talks are at a "very preliminary'' stage and "may or may not lead to an offer,'' the Vienna-based company said.

"We think this news is very positive for the rest of the sector and would expect further online gaming mergers and acquisitions over the coming months,'' a Numis Securities analyst said of the Sportingbet talks in a note to clients. But Numis said Sportingbet would be "unlikely and unwilling'' to accept a bid of less than 85 pence a share.

Shares of Sportingbet rose as much as 19 percent on the news.

The company's market value has fallen from almost GBP800 million before the U.S. measure's passage. The U.S. crackdown forced Sportingbet to sell a unit that took bets from Americans for $1 and left it with operations in Europe and Australia. The bookmaker is expanding from Turkey to Italy and cutting costs.
I heard - private opinion of a Sportingbet rep. - that such talks in progress were not unusual nowadays. This one got higher publicity, but it probably doesn't mean anything serious at this stage.

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