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Ladbrokes owner holds off on dividend even as profit jumps

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Ladbrokes owner holds off on dividend even as profit jumps 1

(Reuters) – Ladbrokes owner Entain said COVID-19 uncertainties kept it from declaring a dividend despite a jump in 2020 earnings and that it was expecting online volumes to ease when shops re-open after surging during lockdowns.

Entain, which rejected MGM’s $11 billion takeover offer in January, posted an 11% rise in 2020 core earnings to 843.1 million pounds as it benefited from a 50% jump in online profit.

However, the company said given the ongoing uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, the board does not consider it prudent to pay a dividend at this time.

While the pandemic led to the cancellation of sporting and other events and hindered betting in physical shops, a surge in online betting during lockdowns encouraged the FTSE 100 firm to bump up its profit outlook twice last year.

Entain said it had started the year with good momentum in line with expectations and hope to see normality returning over the coming months.

The company also said while it was expecting online volumes to ease when shops in core online territories re-open, the trends seen during the pandemic could remain positive for the global online gaming market. ($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M and Chris Peters in Bengaluru)

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