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SBD Global/October 4, 2012/Finance

Sportingbet Grows Its Australian Market As Takeover Nears

Bid target Sportingbet "highlighted growth in its market-leading Australian gambling business" on Wednesday, the main attraction for suitor William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker, according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The online gambling company said earlier this week that "a £350M ($564.8M) takeover approach at 52.5 pence per share from William Hill and smaller online betting firm GVC, undervalued the business." Sportingbet "declined to comment further on the bid situation," citing takeover panel rules. The potential bidders have until Oct. 16 to make a firm offer. Underlying earnings -- expressed as EBITDA -- "rose 11% to £56.8M ($73.3M) on revenues of £188.9M ($243.8M). However, the company "posted an operating loss of £39.1M ($50.5M) once a slew of one-off charges were included." Numis Analyst Ivor Jones, who rates the stock a "buy," said shareholders should be encouraged by the Sportingbet statement. He said, "The Australian business, over ten years in the making, is profitably growing share in a growing market" (REUTERS, 10/3).
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