Online gambling firm GVC Holdings is prepared to further raise its offer for rival Bwin.party Digital Entertainment to at least £1.1bn (€1.6bn, $1.7bn), as it looks to persuade the Bwin board against a counter offer from 888 Holdings.
The Times newspaper reported that the Sportingbet owner would sweeten its offer to at least 130 pence per Bwin share, which closed at 113.50 pence on 19 August. This would be the third increase by GVC from its original offer of 100 pence.
Earlier in August, GVC revised its offer to £1.03bn, or 125.5 pence per share, from about £1bn, or 122.5 pence per share, but Bwin was still in favour of a £900m, or 104.09 pence per share, bid by 888 Holdings, saying a deal with GVC would be too complex as the acquirer is smaller than the acquired.
Bwin's board is scheduled to meet on 20 August to discuss the raised offer, according to the newspaper. If it approves the bid, it would give some time to 888 holdings to make any increased offer.
However, GVC's new offer is expected to more than match any revised 888 offer, sources close to the process told the Times.
The battle for Bwin comes as players in the UK online gambling market are looking to expand offerings to maintain their income and market share amid rising taxes and stricter regulation.
Having a market capitalisation of more than £900m, Bwin is a leading player in the UK's booming online gaming sector. It owns popular brands including Bwin, Partypoker, Foxy Bingo and InterTrader.
If GVC is able to close the deal, it would turn the firm into one of the world's most innovative online entertainment companies with enhanced presence in both gaming and betting. The combination is expected to produce £95.6m in synergies.