Online gambling firm 888 odds on to snap up William Hill’s UK bookies

888 is odds on to snap up William Hill’s UK bookies after firm’s US owner puts European arm up for sale

Online bookmaker 888 is the favourite to take over William Hill’s UK and European business and return the 87-year-old company to British ownership.

The firm, which has a market capitalisation of £1.5billion, said it was in advanced talks with William Hill’s new American owner to buy the non-US parts of the business in a deal worth up to £2billion.

The talks follow the £2.9billion takeover of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment last year. But the Las Vegas casino only wanted the US operations so put the European business, which includes 1,400 betting shops in the UK and online casinos in Europe, up for sale.

Changing hands: Online bookmaker 888 said it was in advanced talks with William Hill’s new American owner to buy the non-US parts of the business in a deal worth up to £2bn

This prompted a three-horse race between private equity companies Apollo, CVC and 888, which is best known for online slots and casinos.

Analysts initially estimated a sale price of between £1.2billion and £1.5billion, but final bids were understood to be between £1.7billion and £2billion.

If it wins, 888 could put William Hill’s 1,400 shops up for sale and keep just the online part of the business.

Betfred, the bookmaker owned by the billionaire Done brothers, is said to want the shops.

Shares in the FTSE 250 firm 888 rose 1.8p, or 7.4p, to 414p. In a statement to the market, it said it ‘confirms that it is in advanced discussions with Caesars’ but that ‘there can be no certainty that these advanced discussions will result in a transaction’.

William Hill was founded in 1934. It launched online in 1998, adding Stockholm-listed Mr Green in 2018 in a £242million deal. 

Graphene legal fight 

A small Welsh firm plans a legal challenge after Kwasi Kwarteng intervened in a takeover deal involving the Chinese.

The Business Secretary has ordered an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into plans to sell Perpetuus Group on national security grounds, saying at least a quarter of the UK’s supply of a type of graphene came from the company.

Perpetuus director Ian Walters said: ‘The Government is in error. We do not meet the criteria necessary for them to issue the notice.’   

Before the pandemic it struggled to compete online in the UK with the likes of Bet365 and Ladbrokes Coral, but made good progress in the US, turning the company into a takeover target.

888 was founded in 1997 by two sets of brothers, the Shakeds and the Ben-Yitzhaks, and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005. 

It paid a then-record £7.8million fine for social responsibility failings in 2017 after 7,000 people, who had banned themselves from gambling, were able to bet. 

It has been one of the beneficiaries of the pandemic online gambling boom, with its share price more than doubling in the last year. 

Results last week showed it had £83million in cash, with the rest of the transaction likely to be funded with debt.

Apollo, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, has lost a series of bidding wars for UK companies of late.

It was in the running to buy the whole of William Hill, but was beaten by Caesars, and was pipped in the battle for Asda by the Issa brothers. It has also shown interest in Morrisons but to no avail.

The sale of William Hill to Caesars came amid mounting interest in the UK gambling industry by US rivals. In January US firm MGM Resorts backed out of a bid for Entain, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral.

After the deal fell through MGM was banned from making another approach to the company for six months.

This ban has now lapsed.

EU threat to Nvidia’s £30bn Arm deal

European regulators may block US group Nvidia’s £30billion takeover of chip designer Arm.

EU officials have voiced concerns as Nvidia is trying to buy the Cambridge firm from Japan’s Softbank, at a time when there is a global shortage of chips.

Nvidia’s bid has not yet been analysed by EU authorities but one official said: ‘It’s not certain the deal will get easily cleared here.’ 

The Competition and Markets Authority has called for a probe over concerns it could stifle innovation, lead to less competition and drive up prices.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, said: ‘The deal now looks shaky at best.’    


Most Related Links :
Business News Governmental News Finance News

Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.

[charitable_donation_form campaign_id=57167]

Source link

Back to top button