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Online gambling firm 888 buys Bwin.party for £898m

Ronnie O'Sullivan Image copyright Getty Images

Online gambling firm 888 Holdings has won a takeover battle for rival Bwin.party in a cash and stock deal valued at about £898m.

The two companies had been in discussions since the middle of May.

Earlier this month, GVC Holdings tabled a rival cash and stock bid valuing Bwin at £908m.

The 888 deal values Bwin shares at 104.09p each, a 1.2% premium on the online gambling website's closing share price on Thursday.

The deal comes less than six months after 888 rejected a takeover bid from William Hill, which valued it at about £750m.

Friday's deal for Bwin is expected to be completed at the start of 2016 and will deliver cost savings in the region of $70m (£45m) a year by the end of the 2018 financial year, the two companies said in a statement.

Bwin shareholders will own approximately 48.9% of the enlarged group, the statement added.

Liz Catchpole, a Bwin independent non-executive director and chair of the company's audit and risk committee, and Martin Weigold, Bwin's chief financial officer, will join the 888 board as an independent non-executive director and a non-executive director, respectively, on completion of the deal.

Bwin's chief executive Norbert Teufelberger, will not be joining the board of the new company but will provide it with consultancy services.

Brian Mattingley, executive chairman of 888, said: "This is a transformational opportunity for 888 in the consolidating online gaming industry, which is expected to grow significantly over the coming years."

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