Ladbrokes owner Entain the preferred pick for NZ TAB
The owner of wagering behemoth Ladbrokes has been selected as the preferred bidder for the New Zealand TAB in a deal believed to be around $250 million, edging out Tabcorp and Sportsbet to the prize.
Sources familiar with the negotiations confirmed the English giant Entain has been invited to come forward with a proposal after securing the relevant “black box” due diligence documents from the NZ government which will allow it to form a proposal. Entain declined to comment, citing confidentiality requirements as the matters are still ongoing.
The NZ TAB is valued at about $NZ1 billion and is operated by the federal government and the New Zealand Racing Board. It operates 675 outlets across the country as well as tote terminals and digital wagering channels. The bidding process has been overseen by financial services firm Barrenjoey Capital Partners.
Sportsbet, Tabcorp and Entain all appeared in Auckland to present final pitches earlier this week. Tabcorp and Entain previously lodged bids to acquire the WA TAB last year, but the process was abandoned by the state government after the collapse of a $1 billion bid from new wagering group Betr.
TAB NZ’s chief executive Mike Tod confirmed earlier this week he’d received three bids and the sale of the rights would allow the successful bookmaker to compete at an international level.
The organisation is expected to submit a recommendation to the minister for racing for approval. If Entain is approved and the deal is completed, it will be in a favourable position ahead of the looming Victorian licence negotiations expected to also feature bids by Tabcorp and Sportsbet.
The bidding process follows a 2018 review conducted by former Racing NSW chairman John Messara, which recommended a restructure of the NZ wagering industry to boost scale. It found the NZ racing industry could not compete with global wagering operators as it was unable to spend in excess of $100 million each year to compete.
“[TAB NZ] has no capacity to do the same thus can never realistically meet or maintain market and customer expectations,” an excerpt from the report read.
Entain may use this as a springboard for other Australian acquisitions. The wagering giant has made no secret of its desire to takeover industry stalwart Tabcorp. It last offered $3.5 billion for Tabcorp in 2021 but was rebuffed.
NZ TAB has been approached for comment.
More to come.
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Source: Thanks smh.com