Paddy Power owner unlikely to play part in expected fresh wave of UK consolidation

Paddy Power owner unlikely to play part in expected fresh wave of UK consolidation

Flutter Entertainment - the holding company of betting firms Paddy Power and Betfair - is unlikely to play a part in an expected fresh wave of consolidation in the UK online gambling sector.

Initiating analyst coverage of UK-exposed betting stocks, Deutsche Bank said the online gaming sector in Britain is "poised for consolidation".

Explaining its interest, Deutsche said: "We see the scope to create value from another wave of consolidation, with rising regulatory and marketing costs encouraging a drive for scale, given material cost synergies."

Flutter - which changed its name from Paddy Power-Betfair last month - generated online revenues of £948m (€1.06bn) last year, 5% up on the previous year. Despite that, it is not expected to seek out UK acquisitions to boost online revenues further.

Earlier this year, the company said its four focus areas would be to maximise profits in its core markets, grow its Betfair betting exchange business internationally, cement "podium positions" in emerging betting markets and pursue US growth opportunities "rigorously".

In February, Flutter took a controlling stake in Georgian online betting firm Adjarabet for €115m, with an option to buy the rest of the company after three years. The company said it would continue to look for strategic bolt-on acquisitions in mainland Europe.

At its agm in May, the group's chief executive Peter Jackson repeated that point.

Our preference would be to grow organic positions in these markets if we can, but if we find opportunties that clear our hurdles - from a regulatory perspective - we'd want to look at those very seriously.

"In all markets there always remains a long tail of small competitors. The question is whether the distraction is worth it. Between Ireland and Georgia there are a lot of regulated markets in Europe that we don't have podium positions in; and we're ambitious," he said.

Meanwhile, the five largest betting firms in the UK market - Bet365, Flutter, William Hill, Sky Betting and Ladbrokes-owner GVC - have agreed a package of measures to fund the treatment of problem gamblers, spending a cumulative £100m over the next four years.

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