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Online gambling firm GVC ‘not prepared to walk away’ from Bwin | Reuters

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“We don’t see (going hostile) as necessary right now as we’re offering a higher price and have a better operating track record.

Online gambling company GVC Holdings Plc could go hostile in the 1-billion-pound ($1.5 billion) battle for Bwin.party Digital Entertainment if Bwin’s board recommends a lower offer from 888 Holdings Plc, the Times newspaper reported the company’s chairman as saying.

Both proposals comprise a mixture of cash and shares.

A person close to the matter said going hostile – that is, going directly to shareholders with an offer – was an option, but GVC would first try to convince Bwin’s board that its offer was superior to that of 888.

GVC’s board is “not prepared to walk away” from Bwin, the Times quoted Lee Feldman as saying. Bwin, like 888 and GVC, offers casino, poker, bingo and sports betting. That said, we believe GVC should own this asset and we wouldn’t exclude any strategy,” Feldman told the Times.

888′s initial offer of 104.09p in July has already been recommended by Bwin’s board.

Top-five shareholder Jason Ader and others are supporting 888, while GVC has the support of Henderson Global Investors, the person close to the matter said.

The offer from GVC, which owns the Sportingbet brand, values Bwin at about 1.06 billion pounds, while an offer of 115p per share from 888 would value it at about 948 million pounds.

Two sources familiar with the matter said 888 was now offering about 115p for Bwin, whose shares were trading at 116p on Wednesday.

GVC’s offer works to about 129p per share, based on closing share prices on Tuesday.

Ader and a representative from Henderson Global Investors did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

888 Holdings stepped up the battle for Bwin on Tuesday by submitting a revised takeover proposal to fend off GVC.

888 and Bwin, which has been up for sale since November, did not provide details of the new proposal but Bwin said it would evaluate it alongside with GVC’s.

(Reporting by Parikshit Mishra and Aastha Agnihotri in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and Ted Kerr)

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