Ladbrokes-Coral sells shops to Betfred and Stan James

Horses with Coral branding Image copyright Gala Coral

Ladbrokes and Coral have agreed to sell 359 shops to rival betting firms in what they say is the "last significant hurdle" for their £2.7bn merger.

Betfred, owned by billionaire Fred Done, will buy 322 shops and Stan James the other 37 for a total of £55.5m.

Competition regulators ruled in July that Ladbrokes and Coral must sell 350-400 shops for their merger to be cleared.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will now assess the shop deals.

Jim Mullen, the chief executive of Ladbrokes, said: "The sale of these shops will clear the last significant hurdle to delivering on the merger with Coral and paves the way for our focus on completion and quickly delivering on the opportunities the merger offers."

The two bookmakers said they would seek approval from the CMA to complete the merger once they sell one further shop.

Market leader

Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are the UK's second and third largest retail betting firms, behind William Hill.

Ladbrokes has about 2,150 outlets in Britain and 77 in Northern Ireland. Coral runs 1,850 shops in Britain.

A merger between the two would make them the UK's largest High Street bookmaker.

However, William Hill is seeking its own tie-up with Canadian operator Amaya, owner of the PokerStars franchise, to keep up with the competition and bolster its online offering.

It was widely reported over the weekend that William Hill plans to press ahead with the £4.5bn deal despite misgivings from its largest shareholder.

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