Ladbrokes expects trading to be inline with expectations

Ladbrokes, Europe’s largest betting operator, has announced that it expects results for 2007 to be inline with expectations after profits for the four months to the end of April, excluding high-rolling telephone customer, matching that of last year.

However, including those high rollers, that figure is down 10 per cent from the previous year.

Ladbrokes particularly enjoyed success in Ireland, terming its growth ‘buoyant’ after reporting a 23 per cent rise in retail gross win, and in the eGaming sector where it continues to ‘grow steadily’. Gross win from its Sportsbook, Casino and Games offering grew by 11 per cent, with active customers growing by 12 per cent.

The company also announced that over-the-counter (OTC) business was slightly disappointing, but this mainly due to the successful introduction of its new Fixed Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT)

Ladbrokes also squashed any rumours of a takeover from the private equity group, Apax.

"It's absolute rhubarb," said chief executive Chris Bell.

Bell went on to say that under current uncertainties in the online gambling sector, and after ending the long talks with online gaming company, it was wary of making any future online acquisitions.

"We are not in discussions with anyone. The business is growing well and steadily and that is how we intend to progress," he said.

"If it's a good opportunity we would be mad not to look at it, it's just that it's a very difficult space to acquire in for all the same reasons”.

Instead, it intends to focus on expanding its business in Asia and Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy. It was recently granted a betting licence in Italy and expects its first shops to be open by late summer.

In early trading this morning, Ladbrokes shares were down 2p to 423.5p.

Editor, - 2007-05-18 11:17:26

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