UPDATE 1-Bwin.Party expects conclusion to takeover talks in 'coming weeks'

Thu May 21, 2015 5:05am EDT
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* Company says discussions enter "a further stage"

* At least two bidders have declared interest in Bwin

* Company says margins better than expected, revenue down

* Shares rise as much as 6 percent (Adds analyst comment, details, background, share price)

By Esha Vaish

May 21 (Reuters) - Online gambling company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, the subject of competing takeover bids, said it expects in coming weeks to "reach a conclusion" as discussions with suitors enter a new stage.

Bwin's London-listed shares rose as much as 6 percent on Thursday after the company also reported better-than-expected margins for the first quarter, helped by careful cost management.

Higher taxes and tougher regulations in Britain and other big European markets have taken a toll on gambling companies and raised the possibility of consolidation in the industry.

Bwin, which put itself on the block last year, is at the centre of a takeover battle between at least two bidders: smaller peer 888 Holdings Plc and a partnership between GVC Holdings Plc and Canada's Amaya Inc.   Continued...