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UK mergers watchdog clears Paddy Power owner's €12bn Stars deal

31st March, 08:47

Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment said on Tuesday that the UK's mergers watchdog had approved the Irish group's merger with Skybet parent The Stars Group.

Dublin-headquartered Flutter plans to merge with Canada-based Stars Group, which owns poker and sports betting businesses, in a €12 billion deal.

In a statement, Flutter said that it noted the UK's mergers regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), had given the deal unconditional clearance.

The authority's move means the deal has cleared a significant regulatory hurdle.

Some observers believed that the proposed Flutter-Stars merger faced strong scrutiny by the CMA, as Skybet has a substantial presence in the UK, alongside Paddy Power and Betfair, another key Flutter subsidiary.

Flutter noted that its shareholders had to approve the deal at an extraordinary general meeting on April 21st, while Stars Group investors would vote on it three days later.

The group pointed out that a small number of regulators had yet to approve the merger, but some had indicated that the Covid-19 pandemic could delay this.

Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson described the CMA's approval as a "significant milestone" in the deal's progress.

"We continue to work with the remaining international regulatory authorities to obtain the last of the outstanding approvals," Mr Jackson said.

He added that Flutter last week published the documents needed for April's shareholder vote.

Flutter has suspended plans to pay a dividend as horse racing and the other sports on which its customers bet were postponed in the face of the coronavirus spread.