Meet the billionaire behind the £ 8 billion offer for Ladbrokes: he’s a close ally of Murdoch and married to fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg
Ladbrokes owner Entain may have turned down a £ 8 billion bid from MGM Resorts this week – but investors can expect the U.S. casino giant to be back.
The largest shareholder in MGM is billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, a man determined to control the US sports betting scene, a sector that is still in its infancy as it was only legalized two years ago.
Those who know Diller say he sees Entain as critical to MGM’s growth, adding that he’ll put his hand in his pocket to make sure the bid comes across the line.
Safe bet: MGM’s largest shareholder Barry Diller (pictured with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg) is said to see Ladbrokes owner Entain as crucial to MGM’s growth
Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The sports betting market has developed into an arms race since the Supreme Court ruled to make it legal two years ago. MGM will be back. ‘
78-year-old Diller has a good reputation in the United States and is best known for launching the Fox TV network for Rupert Murdoch. He spent eight years managing Fox and the two remain friends.
He was one of only a handful of people who publicly stood by Murdoch during the phone hacking scandal. In 2011 he stated: “In no situation have I seen anything other than the most honorable behavior in any possible business situation.”
After Fox, Diller founded the media and technology investment firm IAC in the 1990s.
It has had a number of successes, including Expedia and Ticketmaster, and continues to be involved in dating sites Match, Tinder, and video website Vimeo.
Diller has amassed £ 1.7 billion in fortune over the past 30 years. He currently owns the world’s largest private yacht, a 305-foot yacht named Eos (pictured).
IAC’s model is to buy up and roll up private online companies and their competitors.
Diller has amassed £ 1.7 billion in fortune over the past 30 years and currently owns the largest private yacht in the world, a 305-foot yacht called the Eos.
The billionaire is part of the glamorous US jet set and his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, whom he married in 2001.
The pair count Josh Kushner – Jared’s brother – and his supermodel girlfriend Karlie Kloss as close friends, and Diller has previously named Chelsea Clinton to the boards of his companies.
But he raised his eyebrows last August when IAC raised a £ 720 million stake in MGM Resorts to turn the casino operator into a substantial online business.
He told investors, “It is unusual for IAC to acquire a large stake in a public company that currently has relatively little internet connection.”
Diller has a vision to make MGM, which owns the Las Vegas Bellagio, the leading online and sports gaming company in the United States after the Supreme Court legalized betting in 2018.
Objective: Diller and MGM are not interested in Entain’s Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops, but rather in the company’s expertise and technology in online gambling
MGM is already present under the Bet MGM brand, which it developed together with Entain. However, much remains to be done if the company is to dominate a market that is expected to be worth £ 13.7 billion by 2024.
Diller and MGM are not interested in Entains Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops, but rather in the company’s online gambling expertise and technology.
UK betting companies have a lot of experience in this area and are some of the best in the business.
If the deal goes through, it would be a US casino owner’s second blow to a UK bookmaker in three months after Caesars Entertainment bought William Hill.
Hyett added, ‘The US has become the most valuable sports betting market in the world overnight. All the sports they play are data intensive, it’s all about mileage and home runs.
‘The country is obsessed with sports and the customers are rich. UK gambling companies have the best technology and US companies need access to it. ‘
Whether MGM will win the arms race is not yet known, but one thing is certain: Ladbrokes management and shareholders have not seen Diller’s back.