Consolidation gathers momentum

jetset

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ACQUISITION FEVER MOUNTS AS LADBROKES STEPS IN

Giant British gambling group interested in 888.com, Party and Bwin

The Financial Times reports that the major British gambling group Ladbrokes has held preliminary talks with 888 Holdings and PartyGaming and is understood to be taking an interest in some of Austrian-based Bwin's operations as consolidation moves in the beleaguered online gambling industry gather pace.

Analysts have long believed Ladbrokes would make a take-over move in online gambling, with 888 and its casino brand seen as a strong match for the Ladbrokes onshore betting empire.

On Monday, 888 told the London Stock Exchange it had held "various preliminary discussions with third parties", a statement prompted by reports of talks between 888 and PartyGaming (see previous InfoPowa reports).

An industry source said PartyGaming was losing interest in 888 and was looking at strategic deals, with some of Bwin's empire and smaller-sized bingo and casino companies thought to be among its targets. Bwin said it was unaware of interest from PartyGaming.

It is believed that Ladbrokes has been in early talks with 888. The talks have been sanctioned by 888's Israeli founding families: Aharon Shaked and his brother, Avi, who have 51 per cent of the business; and the ben-Yitzkhak family, who hold 18 per cent.

888's chief executive is John Anderson, who had a long career at Ladbrokes and was executive director of the UK bookmaker for six years. The company declined to comment on the Ladbrokes interest at the weekend.

Ladbrokes declined to comment. But a source at Ladbrokes said while there had been no formal discussions, 888 was "one of the things we are looking at. We would be mad not to look at it."

PartyGaming, until the US debacle the world's leading online gambling company, on Friday laid off nearly 40 per cent of its workforce, making redundant 800 of the 1,750 staff who work on customer and technical support in Hyderabad, India (see previous InfoPowa reports). More job cuts are expected at its Gibraltar and London bases. 888.com's Random-Logic cut Israeli jobs earlier in the month.

A banking adviser to the sector said talks about consolidation were getting stronger, but companies were still trying to establish values. "These companies are in a new world. They have got to adjust their cost base. I wouldn't say deals are imminent, but talks are happening," the adviser said.
 

REOdeathwagon

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Looks like MGM Mirage is coming to the Party now also according to this article in The Business.

Americas MGM Mirage and Britains Ladbrokes, two of the worlds largest gambling groups, have started exploratory takeover talks with internet rivals decimated by recent US Congress legislation banning online gambling.
MGM, the worlds second-largest gambling group, is understood to have contacted a number of players in the sector, including poker market leader PartyGaming, to discuss a takeover.

Though talks are at an early stage, bankers involved with MGM stressed the US companys interest was serious.Bankers stressed Las Vegas-based MGM wants to buy a market leader and is considering a move on any group created by a merger of PartyGaming and 888 Holdings, which are said to be in negotiations, along with Sportingbet.
By : Simon Goodley And Ben Marlow - 02/11/2006.

Could WPT Enterprises be next if his were to happen? We'll see.

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