Entain shares hit all-time high after DraftKings takeover approach

·3 min read
Entain shares hit all-time high after DraftKings takeover approach
As well as Ladbrokes, the company also owns Coral and Gala, and a number of online betting operations, including PartyPoker, bwin, and sportingbet. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Shares in Ladbrokes-owner Entain (ENT.L) soared to record highs on Wednesday after it confirmed a takeover approach from US sports betting company DraftKings (DKNG).

Following a climb of more than 16% on Tuesday, the stock surged to the top of the FTSE for a second day, up 7.5% to £24.20 ($33.02).

The DraftKings offer of £28.00 per share represents a premium of 46.2% to Entain’s closing price on Monday, valuing the firm at more than £16bn.

Entain, which earlier this year rejected an all-stock offer from its US joint venture partner MGM Resorts, has already turned down a £25.00 per share offer from DraftKings.

Entain shares have surged over the last two days on the back of the takeover news. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Entain shares have surged over the last two days on the back of the takeover news. Chart: Yahoo Finance

In a short statement on Wednesday, Entain said that the board would “carefully consider the proposal and a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

It urged shareholders to take no action at this time.

As well as Ladbrokes, the company also owns Coral and Gala, and a number of online betting operations, including PartyPoker, bwin, and sportingbet.

It is understood that DraftKings would buy Entain’s non-US assets, including its 1,500 betting shops, leaving MGM Resorts to buy Entain’s 50% share of its American joint venture.

DraftKings has been riding a pandemic gambling boom over the last year and a half. Its listing via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deal in April 2020 has seen its market value rise more than sixfold from its $3.3bn valuation since.

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The British gambling sector has received a lot of attention from overseas rivals in the last few years.

A number of American companies, in particular, have attempted to tap into the growing industry as the country seeks to expand its sports betting and online gambling presence.

The US has been earmarked as the next big growth market for sports betting, as laws that left the sector stagnant since after the financial crisis have finally started to lift.

Last year Las Vegas casino operator Caesars Entertainment (CZR) bought William Hill in a deal worth £2.9bn. Caesars had already owned a 20% stake in William Hill's US operations, which also had exclusive rights to operate sports betting under the Caesars brand.

In the UK, gambling laws have been much more relaxed than in the US, and the sector has seen a number of technological developments in the last decade. The coronavirus pandemic and the negative impact from ongoing Brexit negotiations has made UK companies ideal takeover targets.

“US sports betting company DraftKings has added its name to a growing list of American businesses intent on gobbling up UK firms,” Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

“We suspect that BetMGM is a big part of the reason DraftKings is interested at all, which may mean it will look to offload other parts of the business like the Ladbrokes and Coral physical betting shops down the line, as Caesars Entertainment has done with William Hill’s shops.”

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