The UK Competition & Markets Authority has unconditionally cleared The Stars Group's combination with Flutter Entertainment plc following the CMA's Phase 1 review under the Enterprise Act 2002. As previously announced, The Stars Group and Flutter have entered into an arrangement agreement providing for an all-share combination to be implemented through an acquisition of The Stars Group by Flutter pursuant to a plan of arrangement under the Enterprise Act 2002.
Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation into the deal in February and has given the green light, citing the high number of rival online sportsbook operators to which punters could switch, including bet365, Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill.
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 Sky Bet.
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.
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.
Peter Jackson, chief executive of Flutter, welcomed the latest decision: “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.”