888 Shareholders Approve William Hill assets purchase

The 888 purchase of the non-US assets of William Hill has received shareholder approval. The deal is now expected to be completed by the end of June 2022.

Last year saw William Hill, one of the UK’s oldest bookmakers, be sold to the American company Caesars Entertainment for approximately £2.9 billion. However, the purchasers then decided they would concentrate on the American assets rather than the European ones.

This led to the non-US assets being put up for sale and It was 888 who have become the buyers as they look to expand their business. The purchase was agreed in September of last year.
The deal will be seen as a reverse takeover. This is because the William Hill assets are higher than those of 888. They have a good online presence but also betting shops on High Streets throughout the UK.

With this being a reverse takeover, the purchase of the non-US William Hill business had to be approved by their shareholders.

The vote on whether to approve the deal was taken on May 16. The shareholders voted in favour of going ahead with the purchase. It was an overwhelming decision in favour with 307 million votes (99.7 per cent) wanting the deal to go ahead. Only 819,264 votes were not in approval.

Lord Mendelsohn is the non-executive chairman of 888 Holdings. He was “delighted” with the support given by the shareholders and thanked them for “their continued, constructive engagement as part of this process.”

He added that this “transformational acquisition” of William Hill will create a “global online betting and gaming leader through the combination of two highly complementary businesses and two of the industry’s leading brands.”

The deal will not cost 888 as much as initially expected. April saw them come to an agreement with Caesars to cut the price of the deal by £250 million. The cash portion of the deal has fallen from £834.9 million to £584.9 million.

A “change in the macro-economic and regulatory environment” is the reason given. There is concern over the reviewing of the William Hill licence that they have from the UK Gambling Commission.

£15 million has been put aside by William Hill to cover any fines that may be levied by the Commission. 888 are only too aware of that situation having been given a £9.4 million fine by the Commission earlier this year.

888 say that the deal will help them diversify their business. Their sports betting business will be increased, and they will also see their position enhanced in locally regulated markets. They will also be helped to overcome problems such as potential marketing restrictions.

When the deal is completed, the purchase will be “an attractive omni-channel opportunity” for them in the UK. Another plus is anticipated annual savings of £100 million by 2025 due to significant cost synergies the deal will create.