CMA delays provisional ruling on Gala Coral-Ladbrokes merger

15 April 2016

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has delayed a provisional ruling on the proposed merger between Gala Coral and Ladbrokes, with a source citing issues regarding branch disposal as a possible reason behind the decision.

The CMA had been due to make an initial decision over the merger by April 18, although a final ruling is not expected until June 24 at the latest.

However, according to a source cited by the City AM newspaper, the CMA is now unlikely to hit Monday’s decision deadline due to issues related to strict criteria regarding branch disposal required in order for the merger to go ahead.

Gala Coral and Ladbrokes had been expected to offload between 300 and 500 of their land-based branches for the deal to go through, although the source said that this number may increase to as many as 1,000 shops.

The larger sale of shops would help address competition concerns upheld, with the body likely to insist that the branches be sold off to smaller competitors.

The CMA is also expected to specify which branches need to be sold to satisfy any concerns it has over the planned merger.

However, despite this initial delay, the merger is still expected to go through by the June 24 deadline.

Related article: CMA to rule on Ladbrokes-Coral merger before June 24