Merger between Flutter and owner of Leeds-based Sky Bet is cleared by CMA

The merger brings together two of the biggest names in betting. Picture: PAThe merger brings together two of the biggest names in betting. Picture: PA
The merger brings together two of the biggest names in betting. Picture: PA
The Competition and Markets Authority has cleared the merger between gambling companies Flutter and Stars.

The companies are two of the main online betting brands in the UK, with a combined revenue of £1.5 billion. Flutter owns Paddy Power and Betfair, and Stars owns Leeds-based Sky Bet.

In a statement, the CMA said: "The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation focused in particular on whether, as a result of the deal, customers who choose to place bets online could be offered less favourable odds, less generous promotions or poorer quality products, for example, as a result of reduced innovation in pricing or app experience.

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"Based on the evidence gathered as part of the investigation, the CMA has found that online betting companies compete strongly for customers. There are a number of large and small online sportsbook operators, in addition to the merging companies, with whom customers frequently open accounts and to whom they could easily switch. These companies include the large operators, bet365, GVC/Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill."

"The CMA therefore found that, while the merging companies complete closely, they are among a number of close competitors, and the merger will not worsen the offering to people who choose to bet online.

"This is one of several global mergers that the CMA has worked on recently. It has liaised with other competition authorities including the US, Germany and Austria who have also cleared the deal."

Flutter Entertainment said it noted the announcement from the CMA that it has given unconditional phase one clearance to its proposed combination with The Stars Group.

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The proposed transaction remains subject to approval by Flutter shareholders at its extraordinary general meeting on April 21 2020 and by The Stars Group shareholders on April 24 2020. It also remains conditional on approval from a small number of other regulatory bodies, some of whom have indicated that their usual time frames may be delayed by the current COVID-19 crisis.

Welcoming today's announcement, Peter Jackson, chief executive, said: This morning's announcement from the CMA marks a further important milestone in the process towards completion of our proposed combination with The Stars Group.

"We continue to work with the remaining international regulatory authorities to obtain the last of the outstanding approvals. Separately last week we published the necessary documentation ahead of the shareholder votes in April and we continue to make good progress in our post-completion planning."

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