Belfast Telegraph

Bookies Coral and Ladbrokes sell 359 shops ahead of merger

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral have moved one step closer to sealing their £2.3 billion merger by offloading 359 betting shops in an attempt to allay competition concerns.

The deal will see rival Betfred shell out £55 million for 322 high street outlets and Stan James pay £500,000 for 37.

The move follows an assessment by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which found that the deal could "lead to a worsening of the offer made to customers at both a local and national level" in the gambling market.

Following the divestment, the CMA will now decide whether to rubber-stamp the deal, which would create the country's biggest bookmaker with around 4,000 betting shops.

Ladbrokes boss Jim Mullen said: "The sale of these shops will clear the last significant hurdle to delivering on the merger with Coral and paves the way for our focus on completion and quickly delivering on the opportunities the merger offers."