GVC DB schemes swing into £110m deficit

Gambling operator GVC Holdings’ DB pension scheme funding swung from a £8.2m surplus to a £110m deficit in one year, its interim results report has revealed.

As of 30 June 2019, the firm’s retirement benefit assets had dropped by £129m since the same date in 2018, from £189m to £60m.

GVC operates the Ladbrokes Pension Plan and the Gala Coral Pension Plan, although they hold assets separately from the company.

In the report, GVC said that a “major component” of the fall in scheme funding was a buy-in on the Ladbrokes defined benefit pension scheme.

As a result of the buy-in, GVC recorded an actuarial loss of £81.3m and paid a one-off cost of £0.4m in relation to the buy-in.

The report also noted: “The pension cost relating to this plan is assessed in accordance with the advice of independent qualified actuaries using the projected unit credit method.”

GVC’s shares rose by 5.5 per cent and it now expects to close around 100 fewer shops than the initial 1,000 it had planned.

Commenting on the report, GVC CEO, Kenneth Alexander, said: "The group's performance in the first half was extremely pleasing with group proforma NGR 5 per cent ahead.

"Online momentum remains very strong with proforma NGR 17 per cent ahead, delivering continued market share gains across all major territories.”

GVC’s brands include Coral, Bwin and Foxy Bingo, and the firm incurred £184.3m of amortisation charges on acquired intangible assets primarily arising from the acquisition of the Ladbrokes Coral Group plc and Bwin in previous years.

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