he interest comes two months after a move for 888 Holdings worth around US$ 384m fell through because the two sides could not agree on price.
The betting market is seen as being ripe for takeovers, with one analyst recently suggesting that Betfair and Sportingbet could merge. Shares in Sportingbet were up 16% to 49.5p.
Channel Islands-based Sportingbet, which saw its shares price jump 16% to 49.5p on the news, offers wagers on sports and online casino games and poker. It has benefited from the growing popularity of ‘in play’ gaming – live betting during a sports match.
It recently paid out a £22.8m settlement with the US Department of Justice, which means it will avoid being prosecuted for accepting online bets made by Americans between 1998 and 2006.
Analysts said the deal cleared the way for potential mergers or takeovers. Last year, it held unsuccessful talks with Swedish online gaming firm Unibet as well as other parties. Rivals bwin and PartyGaming, which merged earlier this year, have also been touted as a potential buyer for the business.
Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn, who has overseen a strategic review of the business since taking the helm last year, is keen to accelerate the company’s online growth amid fears it is lagging behind rivals.