Speculation Surfaces that Tatts and Tabcorp Merger Talks May be Resurrected
As the High Court is in a position to imminently resolve Tabcorp’s claim regarding their loss of poker machine license, there is speculation that the failed $9 billion merger talks between Tatts and Tabcorp may be resurrected.
The High Court challenge came about following a 2008 decision by the Victorian Brumby government to end the duopoly on poker machine operation in the state. Both Tatts and Tabcorp submitted separate claims. Tatts won their claim and was awarded a $540 million payout which has been appealed by the state. Tabcorp lost their court case, but is hopeful that is will be awarded $686 million on appeal.
There are three possible outcomes for the companies. Both companies may be able to keep the winnings; both companies could lose or the court could reverse both decisions, paying out Tabcorp while taking back Tatts’ winnings.
It has been estimated that if the court were to reverse its decision and take back Tatts’ winnings, but pay out Tabcorp that Tatts’ earning per share would drop six percent while Tabcorp’s would rise by ten percent. This is unlikely; however Tatts has plenty at stake and holds the greater risk with the upcoming court decisions.
While analysts were waiting for February’s interim results to see if Tabcorp made a comeback after a drop in trading in October to see if that would be a catalyst for resumed talks, it appears that the court decision may resurrect the talks earlier. If Tabcorp manages to win its appeal, it will become the aggressive party in a new set of talks, changing the scenario from the last round when Tatts held the power.
April 16, 2017