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Ladbrokes chief exec comments on talks with Sportingbet
Tuesday October 11, 2011 : Ladbrokes chief exec comments on mutually abandoned talks with Sportingbet plc
Hours after his company had abandoned acquisition talks with an online gambling company, Ladbrokes chief exec Richard Glynn shared his thoughts with the Daily Mail, saying that he is still on the acquisition trail to expand his company's online presence despite failing for a second time to agree a deal with a major rival.
Ladbrokes had just broken off talks with Sportingbet plc after prolonged negotiations and a looming October 17 stock exchange deadline to put up or shut up.
Glynn told the Mail it could be third time lucky for a bid: "We will examine things to see where we can accelerate that strategy but only at the right price. So it could be fourth time lucky, or fifth, or not all,’ he said.
Glynn seemed to confirm that Sportingbet's failure to offload its legally controversial Turkish operations (themselves the subject of a Sportingbet - GVC negotiation) was the root cause for Ladbrokes walking away from the deal, causing the share prices of both companies to take a knock.
Glynn has always said a deal was dependent on its smaller rival selling its operation in Turkey where online gambling is illegal, and there are apparently further as yet unspecified concerns regarding potential liabilities.
Ladbrokes was understood to be considering a bid of up to 70p-a-share, equivalent to more than GBP 450 million, reported the publication This Is Money:
"A successful bid would have given Ladbrokes access to revenues of GBP 200 million, expertise in the fast-growing online sector, as well as connections and interest in the Australian market. This is the second bid target Ladbrokes has spurned," the publication noted.
The Guardian newspaper was critical of Glynn, commenting:
"This is the way a reputation as a ditherer is made. Richard Glynn, the chief executive brought into Ladbrokes to reinvent the bookie for the digital age, has conducted two sets of lengthy takeover talks and has nothing to show for his labours, apart from advisers' bills.
“First, a deal with 888 became a non-runner; now Sportingbet, potentially a more interesting acquisition, has met the same fate.
"Is the reputation fair? Yes, in the sense that Glynn seemed to take an awfully long time to make up his mind in both cases. It is rather harder, though, to quibble with his final verdicts. 888 looked fundamentally over-priced. And, in the case of Sportingbet, if Ladbrokes couldn't get total protection from the unlicensed Turkish operation, there was no point trying to force the issue. Better to be slow and correct."
However, Glynn still has questions to answer and has to show that his plan to upgrade Ladbrokes through investment in smarter technology will work, the Guardian observes.
"The punters are promised a new all-singing website in the second quarter of next year," the Guardian assessment continues. "It had better be good. William Hill, despite its past technological disasters, has opened a wide lead in online betting. In the wings, the likes of bet365 chip away at the dominance once enjoyed by the big boys. For Glynn, all chips are now placed on his grand relaunch."
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