10/7/09 – One of European online gambling's perennial chestnuts – that 888.com is about to be acquired by Ladbrokes – surfaced again Tuesday, sending ripples of interest through the London markets. As in previous incidents, there appeared to be little substance, with unidentified sources denying that such a move was in progress.
Reporting on the sudden surge of speculation, the Reuters news agency quoted reportage in the Daily Mail newspaper regarding an allegedly imminent bid by Ladbrokes of 139 pence a share, valuing 888 at around GBP 480 million.
Reuters sources were quick to scotch the rumour, commenting that there was no prospect of an acquisition in the immediate future.
"It's rubbish. These are old rumours doing the rounds again," one of the sources told the news agency.
KBC Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram told Reuters that a deal is unlikely at the current time.
"Whilst I think Ladbrokes does have to do something strategic online, I think a bid for 888 at this point is highly unlikely. One reason is they haven't got the cash and, secondly, 888 wouldn't want the Ladbrokes paper," he said.
Ladbrokes and 888 both declined comment on the speculation.