United Kingdom

Ladbrokes owner Entain soars 18% after US rival Draftkings makes a £15bn bid

Ladbrokes owner Entain has become the latest takeover target following a summer of sell-offs after receiving a £15billion approach from US rival Draftkings.

The gambling giant, which is run by Jette Nygaard-Andersen, fought off an £8billion bid from US competitor, MGM, at the start of the year.

And while rumours of a renewed attack from MGM have stalked Entain over the summer, the company confirmed yesterday that it was Boston-based Draftkings that had broken the ice.

New offer: Gambling giant Entain, which is run by Jette Nygaard-Andersen (pictured), fought off an £8bn bid from US competitor, MGM, at the start of the year

Draftkings, listed in New York and worth around £17billion, has not said how much it is prepared to offer But the deal is rumoured to value each Entain share at more than £25, taking the market cap of the firm above £15billion.

Investors were cautiously optimistic, and shares in the bookmaker jumped 18 per cent, or 345.5p, to 2261p, an all-time high.

Entain confirmed that it had received an offer, which consisted of both cash and shares in Draftkings.

But it did not reveal whether it was likely to cave in to its suitors, saying that a further announcement ‘will be made as and when appropriate’.

Entain – until recently known as GVC – is a stalwart member of the blue-chip FTSE 100 index.

In recent years it has been snapping up rivals as it attempts to take on more of the market.

In 2015 it won a battle to buy Bwin, and in 2017 swooped for Ladbrokes Coral.

British bookmakers are in the sights of American predators after US lawmakers legalised sports betting in 2018.

UK firms were keen to get in on this new market, but were forced to partner with casino firms in the US. Entain signed a multi-million-dollar deal with MGM.

Now those US firms are getting tired of sharing their spoils with a UK partner, and instead want to buy the British businesses – acquiring all their technology and know-how.

Last year William Hill was bought by casino giant Caesars for £2.9billion. It has since sold the older assets, including William Hill’s high street betting shops, to British betting firm 888.

Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Rapid growth in market share in a market which is itself exploding makes Entain hot stuff, and a bid from MGM back in January is proof that rivals are prepared to put their hands in their pockets.’

If a deal is done, Entain would be the latest UK firm to be sold to overseas bidders since the pandemic began.

Businesses including G4S, the AA and Aggreko have all been scooped up since Covid hit - prompting accusations of ‘pandemic plundering’ as foreign buyers take advantage of depressed prices in the UK.

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