Ladbrokes calls off 888 talks

Betting group Ladbrokes and online gaming firm 888 today said they were no longer in talks regarding a possible deal involving the two firms.

Betting group Ladbrokes and online gaming firm 888 today said they were no longer in talks regarding a possible deal involving the two firms.

Ladbrokes is thought to have been interested in a takeover of 888, although the pair have only gone as far as to say the discussions were about “a business transaction”.

In a statement today, the two companies said they had “amicably agreed to discontinue talks”.

They came together in November, but the discussions were said to have been delayed due to issues with anti-gaming legislation in the United States.

Ladbrokes was understood to be looking at ways to cap any liability in the US which could arise from a takeover of 888 as America continues its crackdown on internet gambling.

Billions of pounds was wiped off the value of the sector following the ruling, although 888 Holdings did not suffer as badly as other firms as it only relied on the US for just over half its revenues.

888 posted a 7% rise in revenues to £149 million for the year after a 28% lift in its non-US businesses and a continued increase in the number of new member sign-ups and deposit levels.

Since the legislation was introduced 888 has worked to build its business elsewhere, and was been granted an online sports betting licence in Italy in December and, in February, signed an agreement with the owner of Rileys, the chain of 168 snooker, pool and poker clubs, which will see 888 support the Rileys website.

Ladbrokes banked profits of £246.5m (€363.3m) in 2006 and in February also confirmed an interest in the proposed Manchester supercasino and “several” of the other 16 licences due to be made available by the Government soon.

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