(Reuters) -, British bookmaker William Hill Plc said it expects full year operating profit to be at the higher end of its forecast, as its online business improved after a poor first half.

Shares in the company were up about 1.7 percent at 288.3 pence at 0834 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.

A cyclist passes a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A cyclist passes a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The company, which pulled the plug on merger talks with Canadian online gambling company Amaya Inc in October, said it expects full-year operating profit to be at the top end of its forecast of 260-280 million pounds ($326.2-$351.3 million).

Even at the top end, operating profit would be lower than 291.4 million pounds reported for 2015.

The company said online net revenue rose 4 percent for the period from June 29 to Oct. 25, after contracting 3 percent in the first half of the year.

The company said on Monday it identified 30 million pounds of cost savings on an annual basis and that it would implement these by 2017.


The company had said in July that it needed to do more to fix its online business after it posted a 16 percent slide in first-half operating profit.

Betting companies are facing tighter regulation and higher taxes in countries such as Britain and are having to adapt to an environment in which younger and more tech-savvy gamblers are increasingly betting online.

The bookmaker, set to lose its market leadership in the latest round of industry consolidation, turned down an approach from smaller online rival 888 Group and casino operator Rank in July.

($1 = 0.7969 pounds)

(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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