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Merger firms seek to fast-track PS2.3bn deal.

Byline: Mark Storey

LADBROKES and Coral have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to speed up the investigation into the proposed merger between the two bookmakers.

The CMA yesterday launched its inquiry, whose first phase - which seeks to identify if there is a competition issue - is due to last 40 days.

But Ladbrokes and Coral want the investigation fast-tracked to the key second phase, which explores the deeper issues surrounding the suitability of the PS2.3 billion merger.

In a statement, the CMA said: "Under the fast-track reference procedure, the CMA's phase one investigation timetable is significantly shortened. If the CMA proceeds with using the fast-track procedure it would expect to issue its phase one decision within the next 15 working days."

Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams said: "From the outset we anticipated that a phase two inquiry might well be required so the decision to submit a request to the CMA at this stage is in line with that original thinking."

The fast-track procedure was used most recently in the examination of BT Group's takeover of EE, when the CMA advanced the case to phase two having determined it gave rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition.

If the CMA does the same for Ladbrokes and Coral it would potentially accelerate the merger, with an aspiration that the CMA would deliver its verdict by the end of June to allow the merger to be completed before the end of September 2016.

The merger, first proposed in July, was given its support by the Ladbrokes board last month.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2015
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