Ladbrokes' landlords seek better deal from bookmaker

Firm is seeking to surrender about one-third of its leases in Republic

A number of Ladbrokes’ landlords say they will join forces to get better terms from the bookmaker, which wants to surrender about one-third of its leases in a bid to restructure its loss-making business in the Republic.

The group wants to close up to 60 of its 196 betting shops here in a restructuring that began last month when the High Court appointed Ken Fennell of Deloitte as examiner to Ladbrokes Ireland and two other companies.

However, a number of landlords say Ladbrokes wants them to accept a fraction of what is due under the leases in return for allowing the group to end these agreements.

Businessman Tony Sexton, whose company lets a shop to Ladbrokes in Cork, said at the weekend that a number of landlords are considering coming together to tackle what they say is the bookmaker's efforts to pressure them into allowing it to surrender its leases in return for minimal compensation.


Seven days

Letters from Ladbrokes to its landlords state that they have up to seven days to agree to its terms or it will apply to the High Court to be allowed to repudiate its leases.

Mr Sexton said one landlord in the Dublin area had contacted him to say that he had received calls from Ladbrokes asking him to “speed up” the decision.

The businessman said that he had made five calls to the bookmaker’s Irish HQ, but had received no response.

“It seems to us that the company is putting up a wall so that they don’t take calls, but they will make calls to people to try and get them to accept their offer,” Mr Sexton said.

He noted that the landlords were largely investors with just a small number of properties. Most of them are paying the rental income direct to theirs banks to repay loans, he said. “A number of us are likely to get together to do something about this.”

Ladbrokes Ireland is offering to pay the rent due on the shops it is planning to close up to July 29th or the end of the examinership, whichever is the later date.

It then outlines how much compensation it believes is due to each landlord for terminating the lease early. However, it states that this will be treated as an unsecured debt and will be written down in the scheme of arrangement drawn up by the examiner.

Ladbrokes’ property advisers, Harrington Retail, has told the landlords that they could expect between five and 10 cent to the euro from the total amount of compensation that the chain states is due to them.

Meanwhile, according to reports, rival Boylesports is considering bidding for some or all of the Ladbrokes Ireland business by submitting an alternative scheme of arrangement to the examiner.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas