Strangely, almost exactly a year ago, it seemed likely that Ladbrokes would acquire Sportingbet, but that fell through when Sportingbet was unable to sell its operations in Turkey, where on line gambling is illegal. Bear that in mind if you’re on holiday there.
Both firms have seen their share prices rise in recent days, and on Monday trading on Sportingbet was ten times higher than usual, with more than eight million shares changing hands. I know nothing about the stock market, but it does surprise me that the best part of a million shares in that company are turned over nearly every day.
Gavin Kelleher, gaming analyst for Irish stockbrokers Goodbody told the Racing Post, “If you were to ask me to give odds on which company is the most likely takeover candidate between Ladbrokes and Sportingbet, Sportingbet is the nailed on favourite.”
One of the major attractions of Sportingbet to other companies is that it is a leading player in Australia, Greece and Spain, where it has a much stronger presence than the major British bookmakers. It’s not out of the question that Ladbrokes cold revive their interest, but after spending time and money last year before pulling away from a bid for their competitor, you have to wonder whether that’s a move their own shareholders would support.