Ladbrokes ends 888 bid talks over price disagreement

Image caption,
Ladbrokes also announced that its net revenue rose by 2.3% in the first quarter

UK betting firm Ladbrokes has ended bid talks with online rival 888 after the two firms failed to agree a price.

The talks were revealed in December amid reports that Ladbrokes could offer as much as £240m for 888 in a move to boost its online presence.

Ladbrokes' chief executive Richard Glynn said he "simply decided it was not in the interests of shareholders".

Meanwhile, Ladbrokes announced in a trading update that its net revenue rose by 2.3% in the first quarter.

The bookmaker said that despite the economic climate hitting consumer confidence, the results had been helped by the roll-out of its Global Draw machines to 75% of its outlets.

The amount of money staked over the firm's telephone betting operation also increased by 11.6%.

Ladbrokes said it had reduced its net debt from £492m ($804m) to £443.3m as of 31 March.

"We expect the economic climate in the UK to remain challenging in 2011 with consumer confidence and disposable incomes continuing to suffer," said Mr Glynn.

"Notwithstanding this, at this early stage in the year, the business is performing in line with the board's expectations," he added.

On Thursday 888 posted strong results, showing a 9% rise in total revenue to $75m (£45.8m) in the first quarter.

888 said results had been boosted by strong performances from its casino, bingo and poker products.

Shares in Ladbrokes surged 4% following the news.

"We believe walking way from 888 was the right thing to do in terms of price, regulatory risk and operational fit," said Paul Leyland, an analyst at Investec Securities.

"However, Ladbrokes' lacklustre online performance demonstrates the scale of the job," he added.

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