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Dealwatch: Slaughter and May and Ashurst win big on Ladbrokes £2.3bn merger with Gala Coral

As consolidation continued apace in the gambling sector following the merger of 888 Holdings and last week, Slaughter and May and Ashurst won key roles on Ladbrokes £2.3bn tie-up with bookmakers Gala Coral.

If approved by Ladbrokes shareholders and competition authorities, the deal will create the largest UK Licensed Betting Office with additional business in Italy, Belgium, Spain and Australia. The merged company, which will own casinos, high street betting shops and online operations, is looking to have net revenues of £2.1bn with an EBITDA of £392m, though that excludes £65m in cost savings which the duo expect, and a capitalisation of £2.3bn.

Slaughters advised Ladbrokes both on the merger as well as a proposed share placing of 9.99%. The team included corporate chief Andy Ryde, M&A partner Mark Zerdin, finance partner Ian Johnson, and competition specialist Betrand Louveaux, while pension advice was given by partners Jonathan Fenn and Roland Doughty with tax being handled by Gareth Miles and IP/IT by Rob Sumroy. Slaughters’ partner Jane Edwards handled real estate matters. BonelliErede acted on Italian law aspects with corporate partner Mario Roli advising.

The deal saw both Slaughters and Ashurst field their corporate head with co-head of corporate Simon Beddow leading the team at Ashurst advising Gala Coral, alongside corporate partners Dominic Ross and Jonathan Parry. Finance advice was given by Helen Burton with tax partner Alex Cox and pensions specialist Marcus Fink also acting.

Beddow commented: ‘It is a pleasure to act for our longstanding client Gala Coral on this significant deal in the gaming sector. The various legal teams have worked together well to overcome the challenges thrown up along the way and demonstrated once again how the lawyers in the City of London help it to maintain its pre-eminence as a place for undertaking large, complex and innovative deals.’

Magic Circle duo Allen & Overy and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted last Friday (17 July) as the bidding battle for online gambling company came to an end with 888 beating GVC to acquire the FTSE 250-listed rival for £898m. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom picked up work from one of the founding shareholders of 888 with a team led by M&A partner Michal Berkner.