Gala buys Coral to form 4 bln stg gaming group - Friday 14th of October 2005

Gala said on Friday it was buying Coral Eurobet for 2.18 billion pounds in a deal that would merge Galas casinos and bingo halls with Corals betting shops and dog tracks.

The takeover creates a privately owned company worth more than 4 billion pounds, with more than 2.2 million customers visiting 1,450 outlets.

"The deal creates Europes pre-eminent integrated betting and gaming company," Gala said in a statement.

Gala Chief Executive Neil Goulden and Chairman John Kelly will retain the same posts in the enlarged company.

The group will now be Britains third largest bookmaker, with 1,267 betting shops, its largest bingo operator with 167 clubs and a one of the top casino operators with 30 venues.

Both companies also have a strong presence on the Internet.

The deal is backed by private equity groups Candover, Cinven and Permira, all of which hold equal stakes in Gala. Each of them is increasing its investment in the enlarged company by 275 million pounds to help finance the acquisition.

Coral Chief Executive Vaughn Ashdown and Finance Director Mick Mariscotti will stay on to help integrate the two companies

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