LONDON Aug 20 Britain's Competition Commission
will review gaming operator Rank's proposed acquisition
of a rival casino business after a referral by the consumer
watchdog, the OFT, which is concerned the tie-up will reduce
competition in the sector.
Rank in May agreed to buy the casino business of private
equity-owned Gala Coral in a 205 million pound ($321 million)
deal which would add 23 UK casinos to its existing 35-strong
chain and make it Britain's biggest casino operator.
"Rank and Gala are two of only three large national casino
operators in the UK. This merger would represent a major
consolidation which could be expected to reduce competition,
both locally and nationally," Britain's Office of Fair Trading
said in a statement on Monday.
The review by the competition regulator will delay the
completion of Rank's acquisition.
The company had guided that the deal would be finalised in
the third quarter of this year, but the Competition Commission
will not report back until February 2013, pushing back the date
Responding to the news that the deal would be subject to a
regulatory probe, Rank issued a statement saying it was
considering the implications of the referral to the Competition
Commission and would make a further announcement in due course.
Rank noted in its statement that the acquisition was
conditional upon being given the green light by Britain's merger