Betfred Fails in Bid to Buy South African Racing Operator

By Martin Green06 September 2020
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Betfred has failed in its bid to acquire beleaguered South African racing operator Phumelela. The Manchester-based firm offered ZAR 900 million for the business, and said it would instantly pay off the operator’s debtors, while safeguarding all jobs. However, the firm’s creditors instead went with a lower rival bid from Mary Oppenheimer Daughters, the private investment fund of Mary Oppenheimer-Slack and her daughter Jessica Jell, who are part of South Africa’s wealthiest mining family. The MOD rescue plan is smaller and creditors will only receive a minimum guarantee of 72%, as opposed to the 100% that Betfred promised. The Oppenheimer family will pay ZAR 480 million to acquire Phumelela’s racetrack and broadcast properties, separating the assets from the firm’s leisure and property holdings.

Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC Holdings has unveiled a multimillion-pound investment in grassroots sports across the UK following the Covid-19 pandemic. The “Pitching In” programme will benefit the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, which form the seventh and eighth tiers of the English football league system. Clubs suffered a substantial financial loss when the 2019-20 season was declared null and void due to the coronavirus outbreak in March. Former England international footballer Stuart Pearce will be the official Pitching In ambassador. “Grassroots football is facing huge challenges at the moment and many clubs are struggling to stay afloat,” Pearce said. “GVC’s Pitching In investment will help make a big difference to hundreds of clubs and thousands of players across the country.” GVC chief executive Shay Segev added: “In a world where local and grassroots sports are under increasing financial pressure, we believe our Pitching In Investment Programme will play a pivotal role in supporting the next generation of British sporting heroes.”

European Union antitrust investigators have launched a probe into whether Ladbrokes has benefited from an “unfair state subsidy” in Belgium. Rival operators complained after the firm was awarded the rights to launch digital betting kiosks between 2014 and 2015. “The commission has concerns that the authorization granted to Ladbrokes may have resulted in the betting company enjoying a de facto exclusive right to operate virtual betting in Belgium since 2014, without any remuneration in favor of the Belgian state by Ladbrokes in return,” said the EU said in a statement. “The commission has doubts that it complies with EU state aid rules.”

William Hill US is in talks with Caesars Entertainment about a merger that would create a new listed entity with operations worth of $7 billion. The British bookmaking giant gave a 20% stake in its US arm to Eldorado Resorts in exchange for the rights to open sportsbooks at its 26 casino properties. Eldorado then bought Caesars in a $17.3 billion takeover, and then renamed the overall business as Caesars Entertainment. The merger would combine Williams Hills’ US operations with Caesars’ online gaming operations, but not its land-based casino operations. Joe Ashe, chief executive at William Hill US, told Bloomberg: “There’s a lot of opportunity in there, and we think that we’ve got some really powerful assets in this space, so obviously it’s an ongoing subject of discussion.” He said the firm always assumed Eldorado would buy Caesars. “We’ve been riding on their coattails as they’ve been growing. Clearly, we bet on the right horse.”

Betfair reported that a £50,000 bet was placed on President Donald Trump winning the upcoming US presidential election in November. If he is re-elected, the bet will pay out £104,000. Betfair added that it had taken more than £1 million in wagers on the election in the 24 hours before the bet. Trump has closed the gap on Democratic rival Joe Biden over the past couple of weeks after parts of Wisconsin and Oregon were plunged into anarchy as protestors clashed. The two men are now neck-and-neck in the political betting odds. Bet365 has a market leading price of 20/21 on Biden, while Betfair sportsbook, Paddy Power and GentingBet have a best price of evens on Trump, but many bookies now make Trump the odds-on favourite.