Bid target Sportingbet says trading has picked up

LONDON Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:20pm IST

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - Bid target Sportingbet PLC SBT.L said on Wednesday that trading had recovered in recent weeks after a slow quarter prompted suitor William Hill (WMH.L) to cut a proposed takeover offer.

William Hill and its partner GVC (GVC.L) have until Friday evening to lodge a formal takeover offer after reaching provisional agreement on a cash and share offer valuing Sportingbet at 56.1p per share -- around 485 million pounds ($788 million) in total.

"The Group has seen a return to more normal levels of activity in November and in the first half of December," Sportingbet said in an update released for its annual meeting.

"The Board remain confident that the results for the full year ending July 2013 will meet its current expectations," it added.

William Hill, Britain's biggest bookmaker, is particularly interested in Sportingbet's Australian operations.

Amounts wagered in Australia in November were up 11 percent on the prior year and net gaming revenue there rose 14 percent, Sportingbet said.

Any shortfall in Australian trading in the first three months of the financial year that are not recovered during the remainder of the year would be offset by tighter cost control across the Group, it added.

William Hill and GVC had previously proposed a 61.1 pence per share offer before renegotiating earlier this month after Sportingbet reported a 35 percent decline in first quarter revenue.

($1 = 0.6155 British pounds)

(Writing by Keith Weir; editing by Kate Holton. 44 20 7542 8022)