Third time lucky for Tabcorp as regulator clears $4.7 bln Tatts buyout


UPDATE 2-Third time lucky for Tabcorp as regulator clears $4.7 bln Tatts buyout

* Tabcorp forecasts full-year profit below market
    * Says to take a one-off charge A$34 mln linked with Tatts
    * Tabcorp aims to complete Tatts deal in August
    * Shares in Tatts, Tabcorp rise after watchdog clearance

 (Writes through, adds Tabcorp comment and quote from Tatts'
shareholder, share movement)
    By Byron Kaye and Tom WestbrookSYDNEY, June 20 (Reuters) - An Australian regulator cleared
Tabcorp Holdings Ltd's <TAH.AX> proposed takeover of lottery
owner Tatts Group Ltd <TTS.AX> for A$6.15 billion ($4.67
billion), paving the way for a match-up that has fallen through
twice before since 2006.
    The deal between Tabcorp, Australia's top horse racing and
sports betting company, and Tatts would help create a domestic
gambling powerhouse even as the challenge from overseas online
rivals mounts. Players such as Britain'sWilliam Hill and
Ireland'sPaddy Power have been making inroads since the
deregulation of gambling licences in the country in 2012.
    The Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) is "satisfied that
the proposed merger is likely to result in substantial public
benefits", its president, John Middleton, said in a written
summary on Tuesday.
    The ruling vindicates Tabcorp's decision to bypass the usual
arbiter of corporate buyouts, the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC), and take its planned deal to the
Federal Court's ACT which usually acts as an appeal court.
    The ACCC, which has previously blocked a deal between the
companies on antitrust grounds, published in March a lengthy
list of concerns about the proposed acquisition, although it
made no ruling. The buyout fell through a second time, in 2015,
when the firms failed to come to an agreement.
    ACT's Middleton said he would publish his reasons for the
decision in two days.
    Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough said he was very "pleased
with the outcome". Shares of the company rose, although gains
were capped by a full-year profit forecast that fell short of
market expectations.
    Its shares rose almost 6 percent to a two-month high of
A$4.89, but pared gains later to trade up about 1 percent. The
broader S&P/ASX 200 <.AXJO> was down 0.7 percent.
    Tatts shares rose almost 5 percent to A$4.37, after coming
out of a halt on Tuesday afternoon, to trade at a 1 percent
premium to Tabcorp's cash-and-scrip offer.
    Only one condition was imposed on the proposed deal by ACT's
Middleton - that Tabcorp proceed with a planned sale of a
gambling compliance business.
    Tabcorp had earlier promised to sell that business, Odyssey
Gaming Services, to Australian National Hotels Pty Ltd, to
address antitrust worries. [nL3N1GL5K5]
    Tabcorp aims to complete the Tatts deal in August.
    The regulatory green light means the deal can now be put to
shareholders for approval.
    "The merger gives us an opportunity to see how the asset is
run under Tabcorp ownership," said Gabriel Radzyminski, managing
director of Sandon Capital, which has shares in Tatts.
    "We think, all things being equal, Tabcorp will do a better
job than Tatts management (but) our operating thesis is that
lotteries remain best off as a stand-alone asset."
    Tabcorp expects to take a one-off charge of A$34 million
associated with the Tatts purchase this year.
    It forecast a full-year profit at between A$173 million and
A$180 million, short of an average forecast of A$192 million
from 10 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

 (Reporting by Byron Kaye, Jamie Freed and Tom Westbrook;
Editing by Stephen Coates and Himani Sarkar)
 ((; +612 9321 8164; Reuters


This article appears in: World Markets , Stocks , Politics
Referenced Symbols: TAH , TTS

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