The leadership of Entain Plc is closely monitoring the planned sell-off of William Hill’s UK and European assets by new owner Caesars Entertainment.
Group CEO, Jette-Nygaard Andersen, disclosed to Bloomberg that the FTSE100 firm was looking at the possibility of acquiring William Hill’s UK/European divisions, which are set to be divested by Caesars Entertainment as new owner of the heritage betting group.
“We’re looking at everything, so we’re certainly also looking at whether this could be an interesting opportunity,” Andersen remarked, but did not disclose any further information with regards to specific William Hill assets.
Caesars initiated the bidding contest for all non-US divisions of William Hill at the start of the month, including all 1,400 of the operator’s UK and Irish retail betting shops, in addition to its British and European online operations – totally around $1.5 billion in revenue for the US conglomerate, according to some analysts.
If a successful takeover was completed, this would significantly enhance Entain’s position in the UK market, where it already owns around 40% of retail betting outlets through its ownership of the Ladbrokes and Coral high-street brands.
Entain will likely face stiff competition if a bid is made, primarily in the form Apollo Global Management – touted as one of the lead contenders in the contest, having had access to William Hill’s books when competing against Caesars for the US takeover.
Further suitors reported to be eyeing William Hill offcuts include a transformed 888 Holdings, who wish to expand their UK profile having re-listed on the FTSE250 and UK betting tycoon Fred Done, owner of Betfred.
For deal makers, Entain’s bid would likely face the highest regulatory scrutiny as the FTSE firm would secure +51% of highstreet betting outlets, triggering an intervention by the Competition Markets Authority (CMA).
Further deal dynamics see William Hill’s UK sell-off being undertaken against the backdrop of the UK government’s review of gambling re-evaluating all industry standards and policies – with the regulatory outcome likely to have a significant impact on the asset’s valuation.
Caesars’ £2.9 billion takeover of William Hill was finalised on 23 April, representing a purchasing price of £2.72 per share, following the delisting of the firm from the London Stock Exchange.
The Nevada-based, NASDAQ-registered firm had always maintained that the sale of William Hill’s European assets would follow the acquisition, primarily interested in integrating the UK company’s American assets in order to enhance its position in the burgeoning US online sports betting and gaming market.