888 in takeover approach for online gaming rival Bwin

Juan Mata, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling of Manchester United attend the launch of the Manchester United Bwin Casino App Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bwin has partnership deals with a number of major football clubs

UK online gaming group 888 says it has made a takeover approach for rival, raising a prospect of a bidding war for the firm.

On Friday, GVC Holdings, a UK-listed online betting firm, said it had made a bid approach for Bwin.

888 - whose brands include Casino-on-Net and Pacific Poker - is expanding its sports betting business and said in March it was looking for acquisitions.

Bwin's brands include Partypoker, Partycasino and FoxyBingo.

Shares in Bwin jumped nearly 10% on news of 888's approach.

888 said there was "significant industrial logic" in a tie-up with Bwin.

It added that 888 shareholders representing about 59% of its share capital had "irrevocably committed" to back the deal.

Earlier this year, bookmaker William Hill and 888 ended discussions over a possible takeover after an 888 shareholder rejected the offer as too low. has sponsored a number of high-profile European football clubs, including Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich and Olympique de Marseille, and is a casino partner of Manchester United.

The current company was formed from the merger of London-listed Party Gaming and Austrian group Bwin in 2011.

In March, it announced that core earnings for 2014 had fallen by 6% to €101.2m (£73.5m).

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