The perennial speculation that the Gibraltar-based Internet gambling group 888.com is about to be taken over surfaced again this week, this time on the German bourse, where unconfirmed but widespread rumours hinted at a Bwin move in that direction.
Bwin, a major Vienna-listed Online Gambling group is about to launch a serious fund-raising initiative, the rumours claimed....and the top item on its Christmas shopping list is 888.com.
Reporting on the rumours and the positive effect they had had on share prices, the Daily Mail observed that the acquisition of 888.com would further strengthen Bwin's position in the European market following its recent acquisition of Italian group Gioco Digitale.
The newspaper pointed out that, should Bwin make a move, it would have to get the agreement of brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked, who own 50 percent of the 888 equity through family trusts. Another pair of brothers, Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, control a further 11 percent.
In late 2006, Ladbrokes and 888 held merger discussions which were amicably terminated in April 2007 following changes of tax laws in the UK and fears of US legal actions.
The company is now more attractive as a result of the success of its Dragonfish b2b division, which recently signed a long-term deal with US giant Harrah's Interactive to become its software provider, positioning it strongly in the event of any US legalisation of Internet gambling.