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Ladbrokes shareholders defy Desmond and approve Gala Coral merger

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Ladbrokes
rokes shareholders have voted in favour of its planned merger with Gala Coral, despite public opposition to the merger being expressed by Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond.

The operators announced the deal in July, which still needs approval from the Competition and Markets Authority.

Desmond is reported to own an approximate 1% share in the operator and previously wrote to fellow shareholders outlining why they should oppose the deal, with reasons including a lack of synergies and a predicted decline in Coral’s margins.

A total of 96% of shareholder votes were in favour of the merger at the Ladbrokes general meeting, where Desmond said that some of his fellow shareholders are “voting for the Coral transaction out of a sense of frustration and resignation with the current board and management. I share their frustration but not their resignation."

Desmond went on to say: "There can be no doubt that this agreement has been badly negotiated by Ladbrokes. In particular, why would the company agree to pay Playtech £75m in settlement of an incentive arrangement that analysts consider to be well out of the money. Ladbrokes have agreed that the combined Ladbrokes Coral shall ‘not take steps and actions’ to reduce the amounts payable to Playtech in ongoing fees. "
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