May 25, 2018 / 7:07 AM / 25 days ago

UPDATE 1-Gambling firm GVC raises cost synergies target from Ladbrokes buy, shares hit record

May 25 (Reuters) - British gambling company GVC Holdings Plc on Friday forecast higher cost synergies from its 4 billion pound ($5.34 billion) acquisition of bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral, and posted a double-digit growth rate in online gaming revenue.

Shares of the company rose as much as 4.6 percent to an all-time high of 1,028 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

GVC, the owner of the Sportingbet, Bwin and Foxy Bingo brands, said it expected cost synergies from the Ladbrokes deal to be at 130 million pounds per year by 2021, compared with 100 million pounds projected at the time of deal.

Total group net gaming revenue for the period from Jan. 1 to May 20 was up 7 percent, with the biggest boost coming from online channels, where net gaming revenue rose 17 percent.

GVC, which has grown rapidly through acquisitions including the Ladbrokes purchase late last year, said it was evaluating a number of potential opportunities to expand its presence in the United States after the Supreme Court earlier this month paved the way to legalise sports betting.

At home, GVC reported a good start to the year although its retail business was hit by adverse weather.

A Siberian weather system brought snow, strong winds and the coldest temperatures in years to many regions in the two months through March, almost bringing normal life to standstill.

GVC blamed the poor weather for a 5 percent contraction in UK retail like-for-like net gaming revenue.

However, in Europe, retail net gaming revenue came in 32 percent ahead of last year with growth across all regions including Italy, one of GVC’s biggest markets. ($1 = 0.7486 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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