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Ladbrokes changes non-executive board ahead of Coral merger

In the wake of increasing taxes for gambling operators in the UK, several of the market leaders have decided to merge and give birth to even larger gambling organisations to stipulate the global gambling scene. One such merger that has been on the horizon for most of this year is the merger between Ladbrokes Plc. and the Gala Coral Group.

The merger deal has been lingering for a long time and Ladbrokes has decided to make a series of changes to its Non-Executive Board ahead of the planned union with Gala Coral, with the finalisation of the deal fast becoming imminent.

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New Non-Executive Board Members

John Kelly, Chairman of Ladbrokes Plc, has addressed the new members joining the board and a few stepping down.

Mark Clare

The chief executive of Barratt, the UK’s largest housebuilder, Mark Clare, 57, had announced that he will be stepping down from his post as CEO after nine years of service, earlier this year in March. Clare had said that he was leaving to “develop his non-executive career” after steering Barratt through the financial crisis of 2008.

Kelly announced the appointment of Clare as the Senior Independent Director and Chairman of the Social Responsibility Committee at Ladbrokes. He also mentioned that Clare has also been given appointed a member of the Nomination Committee and Remuneration Committee.

Steve Spring

Stevie Spring, 59, a portfolio director, investor and adviser, joined the Cooperative as a Non-Executive Director and Chairperson of Remuneration in 2015. Spring also chairs the ITG Group for Bridgepoint Capital and the Children in Need for the BBC. She was appointed as Independent Non-Executive Director at Ladbrokes Plc. in September 2016.

Kelly also announced Spring’s appointment along with Clare; he also announced that she has been appointed the chairman of the Remuneration Committee and also a member of the Audit Committee, Nomination Committee and Social Responsibility Committee.

Mark Pain

Mark Pain, 54, who was the Group Finance Director of Barratt Developments Plc. and has held both senior executive and board positions at Abbey National Plc. He was appointed the Independent Non-Executive Director at Ladbrokes Plc in December 2015.

Pain too has been named as a member of the Remuneration Committee.

On this momentous occasion, Kelly articulated, “I am delighted to be appointing Mark Clare and Stevie Spring to the Ladbrokes Board. As part of the merger, we undertook to appoint new non-execs and a SID that had not been part of either the Ladbrokes or Coral Board prior to the announcement of the transaction. The expertise and experience they will bring will be a valuable addition to guiding the newly merged company on its journey to be an international industry leader.”

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Members Stepping Down

Meanwhile, in the bid to reorganise the company’s board of Non-Executive Directors, existing Non-Executive Directors, Sly Bailey and David Martin, have stepped down from the Ladbrokes board.

Sly Bailey

Sylvia (Sly) Bailey, 54, was the former Chief Executive at Trinity Mirror, the UK's largest newspaper publisher and served as a Non-Executive Director at the EMI Group Ltd. between 2004 and 2007. She was appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director at Ladbrokes Plc. in November 2009 and as the Chair of the Social Responsibility Committee at the company in December 2015.

David Martin

David Martin, 64, who was previously employed as the Deputy Chief Executive and Group Managing Director for the international businesses at Arriva Plc. and served several other roles at the company, was appointed Independent Non-Executive Director at Ladbrokes in October 2013.

Kelly also noted the members stepping down from the board and said, “I would also like to thank Sly and David for their significant contribution over the last seven and three years respectively.”

He added, “The last few years have been both challenging and exciting, and David and Sly leave the business in the best shape for the opportunities ahead.”

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History of the Ladbrokes and Gala Merger

Ladbrokes Plc.

Based in Rayners Lane in London, Ladbrokes is a British-based gambling company, which was known as the Hilton Group Plc., when it owned the chain of international hotels across the world; the deal with the Hilton Hotels and Resorts saw Ladbrokes in charge of the Hilton hotel brand outside of the United States of America. The company is also listed on the Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 250 Index. It was founded by a Mr. Schwind and his business partner Mr. Pennington in 1886 as commission agents for horses trained at Ladbroke Hall in Worcestershire; the Ladbrokes name was later adopted when Arthur Bendir joined the company in the year 1902 and their offices were permanently moved from Worcestershire to the capital city of London.

Gala Coral Group Ltd.

Gala Coral Group Ltd. is also British bookmaker, casino and bingo operator that is owned by private equity firms Cinven, Candover Investments and Permira. In an effort to become one of the biggest bookmakers in the United Kingdom, they completed a successful merger with Coral Eurobet in October 2005 for GBP 2.18 billion. This acquisition made Gala Coral the third largest bookie in the country with over 1800 licensed betting offices and the largest bingo operator in the UK. The Group has several headquarters scattered all around the country; with offices for Coral in Stratford, London, ones for Gala Bingo and Casino in Nottingham and the Gala Coral Remote Gaming working from Woking. In 2011 however, a decision was made to move a major chunk of the business to Gibraltar including almost all of the remote gaming division.

The Merger

Given that both Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are such massive entities in the world of online gambling, it came as a massive blow to other smaller operators when news spread of the two of them merging.

It was also suggested that the privately owned Gala Coral will hand a windfall of GBP 50 million to senior staff once the company was ready to form an alliance with its struggling rival Ladbrokes.

The deal was subject to much scrutiny from the Competitions and Market Authority given the size of the two firms in question, who ordered them to sell off between 350 and 400 shops in the 642 local areas first before they could go ahead with the merger.

The UK's competition watchdog was an instrumental tool that prevented a former merger attempt between the two behemoths 17 years ago.

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