888 Holdings Q4 Revenues Beat Expectations

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888 Holdings

LONDON - (Reuters) - Online gaming firm 888 (888.L) said it remained hopeful of being taken over by British bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD.L) after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue on Monday, sending its shares higher.

Chief executive Gigi Levy told Reuters that negotiations were continuing and there were no major obstacles in the way of a deal, contradicting a report in the Mail on Sunday, which claimed the talks were on the verge of collapse because an agreement could not be reached on price.

"It's definitely not off the table," said Levy. "There is still interest on both sides in doing a deal. Every big deal has complexities, (but) there's nothing which is a big sticking point. There's a variety of things (to negotiate) like in any deal. We're trying to see whether we can tackle them or not."

A spokesman for Ladbrokes declined to comment on the progress of the talks.

Shares in 888 were up 4.6 percent to 45.75 pence at 0915 GMT, valuing the business at just under 160 million pounds ($258 million).

Numis lifted its price target on the stock to 50 pence from 44 previously, saying the "end game is approaching for 888".

"We believe there is a good fit between the two businesses and that both sets of shareholders should be supportive of a deal," Numis analyst Ivor Jones said.

888, which offers gamblers the chance to play casino, poker and bingo games online and also provides software to companies including Harrah's Entertainment Inc, said operating income rose to $71 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, up 18 percent on the quarter before.

The performance was boosted by a turnaround in the performance of the group's poker business following a relaunch in the middle of last year. ($1=.6208 Pound)

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