UPDATE 3-Online gambling firm Bwin.Party at centre of $1.7 bln bid battle

Mon May 18, 2015 9:04am EDT
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* GVC, Amaya 1.5 bln euro bid of cash and GVC shares - source

* 888 Holdings approaches Bwin.Party with cash and stock offer

* Raises prospect of bidding war between rival parties (Adds GVC-Amaya joint bid details, analyst comment, updates share movement)

By Esha Vaish

May 18 (Reuters) - London-listed online gambling company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment was at the centre of a $1.7 billion takeover battle on Monday as its competitors circled with rival bids.

GVC Holdings Plc is preparing to make a 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) offer in partnership with Canada's Amaya Inc , consisting of cash and GVC shares, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

This sets the stage for a potential bidding war with 888 Holdings Plc, which earlier on Monday offered to buy Bwin for an undisclosed sum in cash and shares.

Consolidation in the gambling industry had been anticipated as higher taxes and tougher regulations in Britain and other major European markets have been hurting companies.

Shares in Bwin - which put itself on the block last year - were up 7.5 percent at 107.07 pence at 1256 GMT, making them the second-largest gainer on the FTSE-250 Midcap gainers list   Continued...