March 9, 2018 / 7:53 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-GVC says done with UK deals after Ladbrokes acquisition

* Ladbrokes deal is last for now in UK

* To look at possible targets further afield

* bwin business helps to boost revenue (Recasts, adds CEO quotes, shares)

By Rahul B

March 9 (Reuters) - Online gambling firm GVC Holdings , which has expanded rapidly through a series of deals, will sit out any further consolidation in the British industry, its head told Reuters.

GVC, which has agreed to take over leading British bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral for up to 4 billion pounds ($5.5 billion), said net gaming revenue rose 17 percent in 2017, helped by gains from the bwin.party businesses it bought three years ago.

Merger activity in the British gambling market has gained pace as companies bulk up in response to higher tax bills and tighter regulations and GVC has been at the forefront.

“I expect there would be some more deals in the next 12 to 18 months in UK,” GVC Chief Executive Kenneth Alexander told Reuters.

“We bought Ladbrokes Coral and we are done for the UK. Ladbrokes is what we wanted, we got them and we are biggest in the UK when the deal closes so we don’t need anything more here,” the Scot added.

However GVC, the owner of the Sportingbet and Foxy Bingo brands, would still explore M&A opportunity beyond Britain, Alexander added.

Alexander has built GVC through a series of increasingly ambitious deals, including the 1.1 billion pound reverse takeover of bwin.party, growing it into a FTSE 250 business.

The Ladbrokes deal gives it a portfolio of retail betting shops to add to its online operations.

For GVC, gains made from bwin.party deal help it post net gaming revenue of 925.6 million euros ($1.14 billion) last year compared with 794.3 million euros in 2016.

It acquired bwin.party for 1.1 billion pounds in 2015 after a prolonged bidding with online rival 888 Holdings.

Net gaming revenue from its sports division rose 19 percent to 331.2 million euros with amounts wagered up 2 percent despite the absence of a major international soccer tournament from last year’s calendar, a year after Euro 2016.

The company said full-year clean EBITDA - its preferred metric for core earnings - rose 40 percent to 239.5 million euros.

Shares in the company were up 3.9 percent and among the top gainer on FTSE 250 Index at 1030 GMT. ($1 = 0.8122 euros) ($1 = 0.7240 pounds)

Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru editing by Patrick Graham and Keith Weir

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