Investors take a punt on Sportingbet

Online bookmaker Sportingbet saw its shares jump 8 per cent yesterday after the company revealed it had talked "with different parties in relation to a variety of potential opportunities".

However, after the shares closed up 4.85p at 63.3p, Sportingbet issued a stock exchange "clarification" saying none of the discussions currently contemplated an offer for the group for the purposes of the City Takeover code. It followed reports that the firm had considered merging with Swedish rival Unibet, and suggested the companies had discussed combining to create a 600 million business.

Sportingbet also announced a joint venture with Russian firm First International Bookmakers. The two companies have agreed a five-year deal to launch an online gambling service in Russia.