|The internet gambling operator 888 Holdings is believed to be in preliminary discussions to acquire rival Ukbetting, which also has a sports content business, in a deal that could be worth an estimated £84 million.|
Discussions were believed to have been initiated prior to the decision by the US Senate to ban Internet gambling in the US, prompting some industry commentators to remain sceptical as to whether any proposed deal would still go ahead.
Indeed Ukbetting confirmed yesterday that it had received ‘preliminary approaches expressing interest in formulating an offer for the company’, however it declined to identify the suitors and expressed caution of its own that there could be ‘no certainty’ that a formal offer would be made for the company.
It was revealed last month that the company was preparing to appoint UBS to handle a strategic review that could lead to a sale of its gambling operation, which, unlike 888, does not take bets from punters in the United States.
Peter Dubens, chairman of Ukbetting and 8 per cent shareholder, has reportedly been unhappy at the company’s share-price performance, arguing that the market has failed to appreciate the underlying value of its two businesses.
Ukbetting’s shares jumped 6p to 61½p, valuing the company at about £84 million.