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888 distances itself from Rank merger, reports 19% H1 revenue rise

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ne operator 888 Holdings has moved to distance itself from the prospect of a merger with Rank Group, following the pair’s failed attempt to initiate a three-way merger with William Hill.

While Rank CEO Henry Birch had told The Times newspaper that “such a deal would not be unreasonable”, his 888 counterpart, Itai Frieberger, has been quoted by the Evening Standard as saying that “merging independently with Rank is something which is not part of our plan.”

Frieberger also commented: “If there is an opportunity in the market we will go for it... but it is not mandatory.”

In related news, 888 has hailed a “very encouraging performance” in its latest half-yearly report, with group revenue growing 19% year-on-year to $262m.

Frieberger cited “outstanding momentum at 888Casino and 888Sport” as the driving force behind this increase for the six months ended 30 June, with casino revenue climbing 31% to $137.4m, while sport revenue shot up by 63% to $25m.

The number of active casino players in Q2 2016 was up 35% compared to the same period in 2015.

Total B2C revenue for H1 rose by 21% to $229.5m, while adjusted EBITDA grew to $44.1m, an increase of 8%.

888 also noted an increase in profit before tax of 39%, up to $27.8m compared to $20m for H1 2015.

Frieberger said: “In line with our strategic focus we have made further excellent progress developing 888 in regulated markets and have grown regulated revenue by 29% against the prior year, reflecting strong performances in the UK, Spain and Italy as well as 888’s recent successful launch in Denmark.

“888’s continued success is built on our first class technology and core expertise in CRM, marketing and analytics.

“Trading in Q3 has started well with average daily revenue until 27 August 15% above strong previous year comparatives and 22% higher on a like for like basis.

“With this strong momentum the board remains confident of delivering against expectations for the full year.”
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