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TABCORP has been telling investors its headquarters will remain in Melbourne in the takeover of Brisbane-based gambling rival Tatts, contradicting claims from the companies that no decision had been made.

The future location of head office has been a hot-button issue, with Queensland’s Opposition LNP last week writing to the chief executive officers of both companies to warn off shifting Tatts’ Brisbane headquarters and complain of any redundancies.

Tabcorp’s takeover plan for Tatts was unveiled last week, creating an $11 billion gaming giant. But the company and Tatts maintained at the time no decision had been made about the new head office location.

But that contrasts with an email from Tabcorp to an investor that said: “It is the intention that Tabcorp’s headquarters would remain in Melbourne, although the merged group will continue to have significant offices in other cities”.

A Tabcorp spokesman played down the email. “(The email) contemplates the registered location of the company’s head office for legal purposes. As we have outlined, the combined group will have a national footprint,” he said.

The Courier-Mail understands while Tabcorp’s official base is Melbourne, a large proportion of executives and directors reside in Sydney, including managing director David Attenborough.

Signs point to Tatts’ Brisbane headquarters going as Tabcorp is making the takeover, but the companies seem to be dancing around the issue because of sensitivities around job losses and head office location.

The loss of Tatts’ Brisbane headquarters would mean a hit to jobs. The LNP letter last week specifically said “we would be very concerned with any move to relocate the existing offices, including corporate headquarters that are located in Queensland and the thousands of jobs that could potentially move interstate”.

Meanwhile, Citigroup analysts have said the rationale for the tie-up “makes strategic sense” but the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission remains a potential stumbling block.

Combining the groups would boost scale, create substantial cost efficiencies and cross-selling opportunities between wagering and lotteries, Citigroup said.

But they pointed back to the ACCC’s 2006 call to block Tabcorp’s then plan to acquire Queensland’s UNiTAB. Of issues then that could remain a hurdle now, one was competition for future wagering license tenders as they come up for renewal, Citigroup said.

Sources close to the deal are hopeful of clearing any concerns, pointing to increased competition from other wagering firms.

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