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Tabcorp, Tatts Group in merger talks

Australia-listed Tabcorp and Tatts Group said on Tuesday that they are in talks to create a A$9.34 billion ($7.1 billion) betting giant, Reuters reports.

According to an investment banker involved in the talks, a transaction could be announced within the next two days.

Tabcorp announced a “Trading Halt Session” on Tuesday in a filing to the Australian Stock Exchange, “pending the release of an announcement by the company.”

Tatts Group made a similar filing on the same day, and both operators did not comment further.

Analysts say the merger would likely be a way to cope with mounting competition from online betting agencies.

"The entry of large global operators such as William Hill and Sportsbet could have helped push a deal across the line as they have taken a sizeable slice of the local wagering market," said Matthew Felsman, a wealth adviser at AAP Securities, quoted by Reuters.

While the company has not provided any details of the merger’s structure, Deutsche Bank analysts estimate Tabcorp could pay up to A$4.75 per Tatts share in a deal that would boost Tabcorp's earnings per share by 1 percent.

"Mergers of equals are normally struck based on a stock’s last closing price, so you would assume Tab is a little happier to revisit the deal now," said Felsman.

Both companies posted modest profit for the 2016 financial year.

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