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Bookies surge on hopes ruling will unlock US market

Bookies surge on hopes ruling will unlock US market

by Daniel Grote May 14, 2018 at 17:00


Update: Shares in book markets have surged on hopes a US court ruling could pave the way for states in the world's largest economy to legalize sports betting.

The US Supreme Court backed New Jersey's bid to legalize sports betting, taking the US a step closer to allowing sports betting in a number of states, rather than just selected places like Las Vegas.

Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) jumped to the top of the FTSE 100 on the news, up 12.3% at £79.75.

On the FTSE 250, 888 Holdings (888) rose 15.4% to 312p, William Hill (WMH) rose 10.7% to 313.1p and GVC (GVC) traded 7.4% higher at 940p.

Greg Johnson, analyst at Shore Capital, said there was a 'significant land grab opportunity' for UK-listed bookmakers.

'Around 20 states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Mississippi, have passed bills or have them making their way through the state legislature, to legalise sports betting; with New Jersey likely to go live in a matter of weeks,' he said.

'With some $150 billion (£110 billion) estimated to be wagered annually  across the US already there is clearly a significant pie to share.'

(11:47) IWG jumps on bid war hopes

IWG (IWG) has surged to the top of the FTSE 250 after three rival bidders emerged with approaches for the serviced office provider.

The shares jumped 21.4% to 305.8p after US property and buyout firms Starwood Capital and Lone Star made approaches for the business, alongside UK private equity investors TDR Capital.

The bids follow the collapse of takeover talks with Canadian investors Onex and Brookfield Asset Management in February.

'IWG is back in play' said Peel Hunt analyst Andrew Shepherd Brown, who raised his rating to 'buy' from 'hold' and upped his target price from 260p to 300p.

'This level of interest suggests much greater scope for competitive tension than the December 2017 proposal, and we now see IWG's going private as likely,' he said.

'Much depends on the attitudes of founder Mark Dixon and the board, but with a competitive auction in sight, we see a 320p to 350p exit price as achievable.'

The FTSE 100 meanwhile edged 18 points, or 0.2%, lower to 7,706, pausing for breath after last week's 2.1% rally.

Among small-cap stocks, embattled retailers Mothercare (MTC) and Carpetright (CPRC) were once again big fallers.

Shares in Mothercare fell 6.2% to 18.7p as the baby clothers retailer said it would ask investors for a cash injection as part of a restructuring plan to be announced this week.

That followed a report by The Sunday Telegraph over the weekend that that Mothercare was planning a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to shut some of its stores.

Struggling carpet retailer Carpetright last month unveiled its plans for a CVA. Its shares fell 5.7% to 34.9p this morning. 

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