* Ladbrokes in talks to buy betting exchange
* Company failed to conclude larger online takeovers in 2011
LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - British bookmaker Ladbrokes is in talks to buy the betting exchange of Dublin-based Betdaq to bolster online operations that have struggled to keep pace with rivals.
Online gambling is the fastest growing sector of the market but remains highly fragmented and is seen as ripe for consolidation.
A report in The Times newspaper on Saturday said Ladbrokes, Britain’s second largest bookmaker, was weeks away from a 30 million pound ($48.1 million) deal with Betdaq, founded in 2000 by Irish businessman Dermot Desmond.
Ladbrokes is interested in Betdaq’s betting exchange, which allows gamblers to bet against one another, rather than using the odds set by the bookmaker.
“The Board notes repeated press speculation regarding Betdaq. Ladbrokes enjoys a close commercial cooperation with Betdaq and can confirm discussions regarding a potential future acquisition,” the company said in a brief statement on Monday.
Ladbrokes had unsuccessful takeover talks with online gambling companies 888 Holdings and Sportingbet in 2011.
Larger rival William Hill last month agreed a 485-million-pound deal to buy Sportingbet in partnership with smaller GVC Holdings.
Profit at Ladbrokes digital business halved in the first six months of 2012. As a response, it has stepped up investment in technology and appointed a new director for that part of the business.