William Hill acquisition

888 Holdings has confirmed its acquisition of William Hill’s non-US business from Caesars Entertainment for £2.2 billion (€2.57 billion), in a deal described by CEO Itai Pazner as “hugely exciting”.

The purchase is 888’s largest since its listing in 2005 and will give the online betting group access to 1,400 betting shops across Britain, as in-store comes back with a bang following a pandemic pause.

William Hill was purchased by US casino group Caesars earlier this year in a £2.9 billion (€3.39 billion) deal, as part of a wider consolidation in the gambling industry, as companies gear up to expand in the US market.

Caesars’ retaining of the US operations means that it essentially purchased them for £700 million (€818 million).

The deal is expected to bring “significant operating efficiencies”, including pre-tax cost synergies of at least £100 million (€117 million) annually, which 888 predicts will lead to improved profit margins.

Mr Pazner commented: “The acquisition of William Hill International is a transformational and hugely exciting moment in 888’s history. This transaction will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, exceptional brands, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth.

“William Hill is an iconic sports brand, making it the ideal complement to 888, one of the leading global online gaming brands. Our strategies are also complementary, being digitally-led, customer-focused, and committed to player protection and raising industry standards around safer gambling.”

He added that the company is also excited about the opportunities offered by the retail business, and anticipated “significant brand benefits” to the enlarged group from its large estate. 888 has also been “incredibly impressed” with William Hill’s management team, he said.

On the part of William Hill, CEO Ulrik Bengtsson observed that William Hill and 888’s strategies are complementary, both with an absolute focus on customer experience and the product.

“Scale is increasingly important in our sector and the combination of the businesses will provide a powerful alignment of brands and technology”, he added.

“This transaction is a testament to the progress William Hill has made over the last two years, our unrelenting focus on customer, team and execution and, most importantly, the dedication and commitment of William Hill colleagues.

“I am immensely proud of what we have achieved and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our colleagues who have made this possible. I look forward to working with 888 as we transition to the new ownership structure.”

The deal was funded through a fully committed debt financing from JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Mediobanca of approximately £2.1 billion (€2.45 billion), including approximately £1.6 billion (€1.87 billion) of term loans and around £500 million (€584 million) of bridge loans or senior secured notes.

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