Ladbrokes closes the gate on 888

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On 8 December 2006 the Daily Mail ran a report stating that Ladbrokes was set to launch a £490M takeover of online gambling group 888;

"The two companies have been in talks for over a month and a source close to the situation said a deal could be struck as early as next week. An offer for 888 is expected to be pitched at between 140p and 145p a share, netting millions for the two sets of brothers who founded the internet poker and casino group."

On 6 November, with 888 shares trading at 119p, an article on Bettingmarket.Com stated;

"From Bell's perspective, there is clearly logic to the bid, in so far as is he is under pressure to grow the business. However, he is known to be a cautious operator, and he is most unlikely to pay a $ more than he believes the 888 business to be worth. Accordinly, whilst the odds favour a bid, it would actually not be the greatest surprise were he simply to walk away. Either way, those expecting to see a significant premium to the current share price may be disappointed."

On 27 February 2007 888 confirmed that its non-executive director and former Chief Executive Officer, John Anderson, has been asked to attend an interview with the French authorities. The company said that it was in consultation with its legal advisers with regards to this inquiry and further announcements will be made in due course if appropriate.

And then today, Monday 23 April 2007 came the bombshell that has seen 888's share price fall by 10% on the London Stock Exchange;

"Further to the announcement made by 888 on 30 October 2006 and by Ladbrokes plc on 6 November 2006 concerning discussions regarding a possible transaction, the Board of 888 announces that the parties have amicably agreed to discontinue talks."

It would seem that in the end of the day, the price of acquiring 888 was one that Ladbrokes' Bell was not prepared to pay.


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