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William Hill and Sportingbet agree takeover terms

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Online gambling firm Sportingbet has agreed the terms of a takeover by William Hill after the UK's biggest bookmaker improved its bid to £530m.

A statement from William Hill's partner in the takeover, GVC Holdings, said any deal would be subject to agreement on certain detailed terms and conditions.

The proposed offer is about 20% higher than a previous one made last month.

Sportingbet said that if a formal offer was made it would recommend it to shareholders.

The bidders must now make a firm offer by 13 November, an extension to the original deadline of a fortnight.

'Mix and match'

GVC, which provides business services to the gambling and betting markets, also said that it was waiting for certain historic financial information in relation to parts of Sportingbet's business, and because of this it was temporarily suspending its own shares from trading.

It warned that the bid discussions were at a preliminary stage and said there could be no certainty they would be concluded successfully.

William Hill has 2,300 betting shops across the UK. Sportingbet, which owns Paradise Poker, offers sports betting and games across 26 countries and has more than 700,000 active customers.

The takeover proposal is worth 61.1p per share to Sportingbet's shareholders, compared with the previous one worth 52.2p a share.

The revised proposal includes a "mix and match" facility under which Sportingbet shareholders will have the opportunity to apply to receive proportionately more cash or more shares.

The firm was previously a bid target for bookmaker Ladbrokes.

Shares in both firms rose in early trading. By lunchtime, shares in William Hill were 3.5% higher, but Sportingbet was down 0.5%.

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