Ladbrokes hedges its bets on potential Coral merger

Ladbrokes stocks have surged 10 per cent on the confirmation that the firm is courting a merger with rival Gala Coral.

The bookmakers would form a larger business with Ladbrokes merging with Coral Retail, Eurobet Retail and Gala Coral's Online businesses to create a new entity to trade on the London stock exchange.

Far from a done deal, Ladbrokes announced in a statement that the board had not decided whether the “transaction is strategically attractive”.

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Ladbrokes, said: "Since becoming CEO my focus has been on a more aggressive plan to build digital scale and grow our recreational customer base across all channels, which is key to creating a more sustainable and growing Ladbrokes. My plans are well advanced and I look forward to presenting them to shareholders.

“A merger with Gala Coral could create a combined business with significant scale and has the potential to generate substantial cost synergies, creating value for both companies' shareholders.”

Mergers are in the air in the UK bookmaker industry of late, rival William Hill was reportedly interested in a takeover of 888 back in February.

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