Tabcorp and Tatts Merger to Create Aussie Betting Super Power

Posted on: October 19, 2016, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2016, 04:34h.

Tabcorp and Tatts to Merge
Tabcorp Chairman Paula Dywer said the deal would be goof not just for shareholders but also the racing industry, business partners, customers, and governments. (Image: Dominic Lorrimer)

Tabcorp and Tatts, Australia’s two biggest homegrown betting companies, have announced their intention to merge.

The $11.3 billion ($8.7 billion U.S.) combination will create an Aussie gambling giant, with revenues in excess of $5 billion ($3.8 billion U.S.) and control of over 90 percent of the country’s pari-mutuel betting market.   

The merger comes at a time when native Australian bookmakers are seeing increased competition from offshore operators, with mainly UK-based companies like Ladbrokes and William Hill, and Ireland’s Paddy Power, gaining traction in the country since the deregulation of gambling licenses in 2012.

These companies have brought with them technological disruption; superior mobile offerings with features such as in-play betting for sporting events, for example.

In April, the Australian government banned the practice of in-play sportsbetting, a move that was praised by Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough.     

Third Time Lucky

But the offshore sites have also been consolidating, with recent mergers occurring between GVC and bwin, Paddy Power and Betfair, and Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, and this has the Aussie bookies even more rattled.

“The offshore bookmakers have been consolidating and have been penetrating our domestic market,” said Harry Boon, chairman of Tatts. “The merger of these two businesses creates a stronger platform for us to compete nationally and globally.”

The two companies held merger negotiations last year but failed to come to agreement. Analysts said that the timing was right now because both companies’ share prices had returned to levels that reflect their underlying values.

Tabcorp and Tatts first attempted to merge a decade ago, but that deal was vetoed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which felt the stranglehold a combined company would hold on the market would be detrimental to competition.

Competition Regulator Could Block Deal

The ACCC could still block the proposal, although the influx of offshore operators will help to offset fears about market competitiveness.

All being well, the paper and cash deal would see Tatts shareholders 0.80 in Tabcorp shares plus 42.5 cents in cash for each Tatts share. On completion, Tabcorp shareholders will own about 42 per cent of the combined company, with Tabcorp assuming control of the 135 year-old Tatts.

“This transaction is expected to deliver significant value for both sets of shareholders, and material benefits to other key stakeholders including the racing industry, business partners, customers, and governments,” said Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer.

Once approved by shareholders and regulators, the merger is expected to be completed by mid-2017, with a full integration to be completed another two years after that. The deal is expected to generate $135 million in cost savings.