Sportech Adds Vernons to Pools Empire
By staff
In a long-running story that included stops at the Competition Commission, Liverpool-based soccer pools business Sportech has finally announced its purchase of rival Vernon Pools from parent company Ladbrokes.

Sportech stated that it has agreed to pay $105 million for Vernon Pools, $93 million upfront with the remainder due in two annual instalments, in a deal that could see the combined business serve up to one million customers per week. Liverpool-based Vernons Pools, which was founded in 1925, attracts 200,000 people per week and recently reported annual pre-tax profits of $12.2 million with good customer retention rates.

Sportech also operates the Littlewoods and Zetters pools businesses and is part-owned by the man behind the Blackpool Tower and Pontins, Trevor Hemmings. When the deal was first hinted at early this year, the Office Of Fair Trade recommended that any such proposition be put before the Competition Commission as both were top pool operators and any deal could have amounted to a monopoly.

The Commission gave the go-ahead last month with Sportech stating that it would also spend $7.3 million to take the game online in partnership with Orbis and Scientific Games.

Ian Penrose, Chief Executive for Sportech, stated that the firm planned to revamp the image of the acquisition by re-branding it, bringing in new games and offering roll-over million pound jackpots to win back players.

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