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UK on-line betting company buys Teamtalk
Friday, May 31 2002
by Aoife White

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Sport multimedia group Teamtalk has accepted a STG13.7 million takeover bid from ukbetting, the on-line betting firm that also controls Sportal.com.

The company had turned down ukbetting's earlier offer of STG10.4 million, claiming it undervalued Teamtalk after its recent restructuring.

Peter Dubens, vice chairman of ukbetting, said the increased offer demonstrated the company's belief that ukbetting's brands, Sportinglife and Sportal, would make a good match with Teamtalk, driving further consolidation in the digital sports content market.

The purchase last year of two troubled dot.coms, Sportal and Sportinglife, marked a turnaround for ukbetting. The company said sports content fuelled a massive 53 percent year-on-year increase in monthly betting stakes, reaching an average of STG2.5 million a month.

Over 74,000 customers are now registered with ukbetting.com and its sister site, totalbet.com. The company has over 1.25 million unique users through its three sports content sites, sportinglife.com, sportal.com and bettingzone.co.uk.

The group intends to offer betting on mobile phones and digital television in the near future.

Earlier this year Ukbetting Chief Executive Eric Semel said ukbetting had identified an extremely cost-effective method of attracting wagering customers through its branded sports content Web sites.

"With the re-launch of sportal.com and bettingzone.co.uk we expect to attract even higher numbers of sports and betting enthusiasts, giving additional opportunities both to increase advertising and sponsorship revenues and to convert these to customers to our betting brands," said Semel in a statement. Semel, who is the son of Yahoo CEO and Chairman Terry Semel, acquired Ukbetting last year and took the company public.

For the year of 2001, Ukbetting reported pre-tax losses of STG2.6 million but the company said it still had STG3.8 million in the bank.

Teamtalk Media Group generates and distributes original sports content for the radio, the Internet, mobile and fixed line telephone networks, iTV and satellite networks.

In April it issued a profit warning and ended talks on a management buy-out. Teamtalk started as a premium rate phone line service in 1988 and its phone lines now receive over 260,000 customer calls a month.

In April 2000 the company demerged from telecommunications business IMS and later floated on the London Stock Exchange, raising STG46 million.

Teamtalk employs 520 people worldwide with over 90 in-house journalists and 270 freelancers and has offices in North America and Europe.


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