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Good Odds Paddy Power Has Backed a Winner

Written by:
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Published on:
Jun/04/2009

BOOKIE turned boardroom protagonist Mark Read could walk away with $11.6 million stashed in his bag after Ireland's biggest online betting and gaming provider, Paddy Power, lobbed a 60¢-per-share takeover for International All Sports via its local outfit, Sportsbet.

The takeover, via a scheme of arrangement, looks almost certain to succeed as Mr Read owns 19 per cent of the publicly listed betting company and Paddy Power is already sitting on 19.98 per cent through its 51 per cent stake in Sportsbet.

The bid, launched late yesterday, values International All Sports at about $40 million and will give the Irish betting outfit a large stake in the market for bets on a range of local and international sports.

Earlier this year gambling rival Centrebet launched and then binned a 33¢-a-share bid for International All Sports. It is considered unlikely Centrebet will re-enter the competition for the business and lob a bid above that of Paddy Power.

In May Paddy Power, which operates more than 250 retail licensed betting offices in Ireland and Britain, acquired a 51 per cent stake in Sportsbet.

IAS chairman Barry Coulter welcomed the takeover bid and said it was unanimously recommended to shareholders in the absence of a superior offer.

Mr Read said he was proud that Paddy Power and Sportsbet believed the company he founded in 1995 would be a valuable addition to their existing business. If shareholders approve the takeover it is likely to be completed by October 8.

IAS shares, in a trading halt since yesterday, last traded at 50¢.

The IAS acquisition will make Sportsbet a leader in Australia's corporate bookmaking field. The combined annual turnover of the two companies exceeded $2 billion last year.

Ed Greenblat, The Age

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