Gambling firm Entain launches share ownership plan in ESG push

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FILE PHOTO: A Ladbrokes shop in Harpenden

(Corrects year to 2023 from 2030 in paragraph 7)

(Reuters) - Gambling firm Entain, which owns the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, told Reuters on Thursday it has launched a group-wide employee share ownership plan for over 22,500 employees in the UK and overseas.

At a time when many investors are pushing the companies they invest in to make more changes to show their commitment to environmental and social problems, Entain said the share plan showed ESG concerns were at the heart of its strategy.

"We've been keen for some time to roll out a universal employee share ownership plan as part of this (ESG), which we will continue to refine and build on as the business grows," Entain Chief Financial Officer Rob Wood said.

Entain said under the plan, which will be offered to employees across the world including the Philippines, India and Bulgaria, employees can choose to save a monthly sum from 5 pounds to 100 pounds over three years.

At the end of the period, they will have the option to buy shares in Entain for 20% less than their market value at the start of the invitation period, Entain added.

The company, formerly known as GVC, could not estimate what portion of outstanding shares will be used in the plan ahead of participation by the employees.

Entain, which plans to exit unregulated gambling markets by 2023, is scheduled to publish its first-quarter results later on Thursday.

(This story corrects year to 2023 from 2030 in paragraph 7)

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)