PR advisers line up as GVC puts offer on table for Ladbrokes Coral

Tulchan is providing PR advice to Ladbrokes Coral as it becomes subject to a potential acquisition by GVC Holdings, whose PR has been provided by Buchanan since the collapse of Bell Pottinger.

It was announced this morning that the board of Ladbrokes Coral and GVC Holdings, the owner of Bwin and SportingBet, among other online gaming brands, were in discussions about a merger, under which GVC shareholders would take control of 53.5 per cent of the merged group.

GVC is required to make a firm offer or withdraw its proposal by 4 January. The deal would create a FTSE100 company with a market capitalisation of £5.7bn.

Tulchan has provided financial PR to Ladbrokes for at least five years, staying with the business through the merger with Gala Coral Group in 2015.

Online betting group GVC is a new client for WPP agency Buchanan – the account was with Bell Pottinger until its collapse, and the account then followed its long-serving director David Rydell when he moved in the Autumn.

Working alongside Rydell on the GVC team at Buchanan are partner Henry Harrison-Topham and director Chris Lane, both of whom worked for GVC at Abchurch, which Harrison-Topham co-founded, prior to the account moving to Bell Pottinger. Lane joined Buchanan last month from FTI Consulting.

Other former Bell Pottinger clients now at Buchanan include Cenkos Securities, BioPharma Credit, Primary Health, Primary Health Properties and Clipper Logistics.

The Financial Times reports this morning that GVC and Ladbrokes Coral had held merger talks twice already this year, noting: "Past talks between GVC and Ladbrokes Coral have broken down due to disagreements over how to value the companies, an issue exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding the UK government’s review into the gambling sector."

Stakes and prizes in gambling, and the promotion and marketing of such companies, are subject to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport consultation which closes in January. There is increasing pressure on the Government to increase regulation on the sector in order to reduce problem gambling, with PR veteran Lord Chadlington among those voicing concerns, as PRWeek reported last month.

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