Boylesports says bid for Ladbrokes Ireland being stymied

Lack of information putting chain at disadvantage, court told

The loss-making Ladbrokes Ireland plans to close 60 of its 196 betting shops and cut 250 of its 840 jobs under a rescue plan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The loss-making Ladbrokes Ireland plans to close 60 of its 196 betting shops and cut 250 of its 840 jobs under a rescue plan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A refusal to give Boylesports information on Ladbrokes Ireland’s betting shops has left its bid for the business at a serious disadvantage to a rival offer from the troubled chain’s UK parent, the High Court heard yesterday.

The loss-making Ladbrokes Ireland plans to close 60 of its 196 betting shops and cut 250 of its 840 jobs under a rescue plan prepared by High Court-appointed examiner Ken Fennell of Deloitte and backed its UK parent.

Boylesports also wants to table an offer but says the examiner is refusing to provide it with key information on betting volumes and turnover in Ladbroke’s Irish shops.

Maurice Collins, senior counsel for Boylesports, told the High Court the refusal puts Boylesports at a disadvantage to Ladbrokes UK’s own rescue bid.

“It puts Ladbrokes UK in a privileged position, or it maintains and protects the privileged position that they already have,” he said.

He said as the UK arm managed the Irish business, it had a head start on Boylesports.

“In an examinership, that’s the reality. My clients accept that. What they do not accept is that the minimum, irreducible and accepted information that they need to formulate a bid has been refused to them.

“It is that refusal that creates a position of unfairness and prejudice as far as my client is concerned.”

Even-handed

Mr Collins argued that the examiner had a duty to behave even-handedly towards all bidders.

Lawyers for Mr Fennell and Ladbrokes rejected any suggestion that Ladbrokes Ireland’s UK parent directed that Boylesports be refused the information.

Mr Fennell’s senior counsel, Lyndon MacCann, questioned whether Boylesports had a right to take the case.

He said the examiner was acting in the best interests of Ladbrokes Ireland by not releasing commercially sensitive information to a competitor that it could ultimately use it to its own advantage if it decided not go ahead with a bid or the offer failed.