Ladbrokes and 888 Holdings end talks

Source: The Guardian

Takeover talks between Ladbrokes and online poker and casino firm 888 Holdings have been ended without agreement.

The two companies announced this morning that discussions over a possible transaction had concluded “amicably”.

Talks began in November 2006, shortly after America stopped US firms from taking internet bets, and banned banks and credit card firms from processing web payments.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes, the UK’s second-largest bookmaker, confirmed that the ongoing uncertainty caused by the US clampdown had been one factor behind the termination of talks.

The shares gained 4.75p to 408.25p this morning, a rise of just over 1%. 888 Holdings lost nearly 6%, and were down 7p at 115.5p.

Nigel Parson, leisure analyst at Evolution Securities, said that today’s announcement indicated that the bookmaker’s lawyers weren’t convinced that they could ringfence the liabilities from 888 Holdings’ US activities.

“Ladbrokes didn’t need to do the deal, and it really didn’t need the legal uncertainty,” said Mr Parson. “This is the kind of thing that can end chief executives’ careers.”

888 said that its trading outlook was unchanged.

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