Bookie planning Betdaq takeover

Betdaq, the Dublin-based betting exchange company established nearly 13 years ago by Dermot Desmond, looks set to be taken over by British bookmaker Ladbrokes in the coming weeks.

Ladbrokes yesterday formally responded to recent speculation on the matter by confirming it is in talks with Betdaq, but stressed it is still too early to know if an agreement will be reached.

“Ladbrokes enjoys a close commercial co-operation with Betdaq and can confirm discussions, regarding a potential future acquisition,” the firm said via a stock exchange statement.

It is understood that completion of the deal is still a few weeks away, but the rumoured purchase price of around £30m (€37m) is thought to be accurate, according to one source.

Ladbrokes — which owns nearly 300 shops in Ireland — has seen its online operations struggle in recent times and has failed in its attempts to bolster them through acquisition. Takeover talks with online specialists 888 Holdings and Sportingbet both failed last year.

Ownership of Betdaq — which has an estimated 7% share of the online betting market in Ireland and Britain — would help boost Ladbrokes’ digital offering and enhance its services beyond the fixed odds betting channel.

However, Goodbody Stockbrokers called Ladbrokes’ potential takeover of Betdaq “an interesting, but risky, move”. It said it is “quite different” to a betting exchange adding fixed-odds products, something which leading exchange Betfair is doing.

Goodbody said that “adding a betting exchange offering to a fixed-odds offering is untested and could lead to revenue cannibalisation — if customers migrate to the lower margin exchange product”.

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