Ladbrokes shareholder Dermot Desmond, the Irish billionaire, has launched a blistering attack on the UK bookmaker’s proposed merger with Gala Coral, describing it as a reverse-takeover and “effectively the death of Ladbrokes as an independent company.”

Desmond, who owns a 1 per cent stake in Ladbrokes, said it is time for Ladbrokes’ shareholders to “stand up for their rights and instruct the board to properly evaluate all strategic options open to it before committing to a bad deal with Coral.”

“The recent history of value destruction suggests shareholders can no longer rely on either the board which has presided over this decline or the management team which intends abdicating turnaround responsibility to its Coral counterparts to deliver the right solution for Ladbrokes,” said Desmond.

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