The £2.7bn ($3.3bn) merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral is edging closer, after the two bookmakers agreed to sell a combined 359 stores to rival firms for £55.5m.

FTSE 250-listed Ladbrokes said 322 shops will be bought by Betfred, with the remaining 37 to be snapped up by Stan James. Earlier this year, the Competition Market Authority had ruled Ladbrokes and Gala Coral would have to sell approximately 400 stores in order for their merger to receive the green light.

Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen said the sale was the last major hurdle to clear before completing the deal.

"The sale of these shops will clear the last significant hurdle to delivering on the merger with Coral and paves the way for our focus on completion and quickly delivering on the opportunities the merger offers," he said on Monday (17 October).

A merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral would create Britain's largest bookmaking firm, overtaking William Hill as the UK biggest high-street bookmaker.

Ladbrokes operates approximately 2,200 site across Britain and Northern Ireland, while Coral runs 1,850 shops in Britain, making them the second and third-biggest bookmakers in the country respectively.