William Hill Accepts £2.9 Billion Takeover Offer from Caesars
William Hill today announced that it has accepted a cash offer from US casino operator Caesars Entertainment Inc. that values the British bookmaker at approximately £2.9 billion.
Today’s announcement comes after Caesars tabled its offer this past Monday and after William Hill said in a Friday statement that it has received separate initial cash proposals from the casino powerhouse and US private equity firm Apollo Management International.
Caesars will pay 272p per William Hill share in cash. The deal is subject to anti-trust and regulatory approvals as well as to William Hill shareholders voting in favor.
Caesars Woos William Hill with £2.9 Billion Takeover Offer
William Hill said that its Board of Directors would “unanimously and unconditionally” recommend the transaction. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021, if it clears successfully all pending hurdles.
Caesars already owns a 20% in William Hill’s US business as part of a joint venture between the British bookmaker and Eldorado Resorts in 2018. Under that partnership, William Hill is now the exclusive operator of sportsbooks at Caesars properties across multiple US states.
It should be noted that Eldorado and Caesars Entertainment Corp. tied-up this summer in a $17.3 billion deal that created the largest US casino operator by number of properties. The enlarged group inherited Eldorado’s partnership with William Hill to provide the bookmaker with access to iconic Las Vegas Strip properties such as Caesars Palace and The LINQ, among others.
Caesars, Apollo Line Up to Buy William Hill amid US Sports Betting Gold Rush
Caesars Could Sell William Hill’s UK, European Business
Caesars said that when and if it acquires William Hill, its focus would be on the bookmaker’s US operations and that it would “seek suitable partners or owners” for its UK and international operations.
William Hill itself has been focusing a lot of efforts into growing its US footprint since the US Supreme Court Struck down in 2018 a federal ban on athletic gambling paving the way for a number of states to legalize sports betting.
William Hill established its US business in 2012 and has since then opened sportsbooks across 13 states.
However, its UK business has been going through a rough patch over the past several years as the government has been tightening rules for operating in the local market. William Hill had to close 700 betting shops after a crackdown on the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals.
The coronavirus crisis added to the company’s already shaky performance in its domestic market. William Hill announced in August that 119 of its retail sites across the UK would remain closed permanently as it did not expect pre-pandemic numbers to be reached any time soon.
Best Option for William Hill
Commenting the acquisition of William Hill, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said that the bookmaker’s “sports betting expertise will complement Caesars’ current offering” and would enable the combined group to “serve our customers in the fast-growing US sports betting and online market.”
Caesars said today that it plans to broaden its current joint venture with William Hill in order to “fully maximize the opportunity in the sports betting and gaming sector.”
William Hill Chairman Roger Devlin said that Caesars’ offer “is the best option for William Hill at an attractive price for shareholders.”
The deal needs the approval of 75% of the British company’s shareholders in order to close. It should be noted that Caesars did not really leave William Hill with much choice when it tabled its offer this past Monday.
The casino operator said that it would be able to exercise its right to terminate aspects of its US joint venture with the bookmaker if William Hill chose to accept a rival takeover offer from Apollo or other potential bidder.
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