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888 Ladbrokes Merger Talks Still Ongoing

Written by:
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Published on:
Mar/31/2011

(Reuters) - Online gaming firm 888 (888.L) said bid talks with rival Ladbrokes (LAD.L) were ongoing as it reported a steep fall in 2010 earnings, hit by falling poker revenues and an increased marketing spend.

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, on Thursday said its 2010 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 37 percent to $28.6 million (17.7 million pounds).

Revenues grew 6 percent to $262.1 million.

Market expectations for 2010 EBITDA ranged from $21.4 million to $28.5 million with the average at $27 million, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 12 analysts.

888, which has been in talks over a possible takeover by British bookmaker Ladbrokes (LAD.L) since December, said talks between the pair were ongoing and that a further announcement would be made when appropriate.

888 is 61 percent owned by the founding Israel-based Shaked and Yitshak families and any takeover would need their support.

The company said trade in the first quarter of 2011 had begun strongly with average daily revenues increasing by around 7 percent on the fourth quarter of 2010.

"Following a challenging start to the year 888 finished 2010 strongly," 888's chief executive Gigi Levy said.

"888 has begun the year with strong current trading and continues to make good progress across all segments of the business."

PartyGaming PRTY.L, the world's biggest listed online gambling company, earlier this month posted a rise in full year underlying earnings and said it was confident going into 2011 despite a shifting regulatory environment.

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