888 Confirms Acquisition of William Hill
Online casino 888 has completed the acquisition of William Hill’s European operations. The gambling company will transfer a total amount of £ 1,95 miljard (NZ$ 3,72 billion) to Caesars Entertainment.
888 Holdings announced on July 1 that it has acquired the European branch of William Hill, according to iGB. The last obstacle to the transaction was dealt with in May making way for the conclusion of the deal. 888 shareholders voted en masse to buy William Hill. In September 2021, the first reports surged that 888 Holdings was willing to make a takeover bid for Caesars Entertainment. The deal focuses on the activities in Europe.
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The Final Deal
Initially, the acquisition was worth £ 2,20 billion (NZ$ 4,26 billion). Because William Hill risked a mega fine, the final amount has turned out significantly lower: £ 1.95 billion (NZ$ 3,78 billion). A number of indemnity agreements were included in the revised deal. In the official press release Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, said he was pleased with the acquisition of William Hill.
I am delighted to announce the completion of our transformative combination with William Hill. We have built an outstanding leadership team, which combines the strengths of both companies, and as I look to the future, the combination of our product and content leadership, powered by our technology, and our world-class brands, gives us a powerful platform for growth.
Itai Pazner, CEO 888
The chairman of 888, Lord Mendelsohn, also expressed his confidence in the future plans:This combination brings two high-quality companies together to create a powerful global gaming company. We believe the acquisition will create significant shareholder value by creating a combined company with leading edge technology, products and brands in sports betting and gaming. With a top-quality management team, made up of talent from both companies, I am confident in our plans for the future.
Lord Mendelsohn, Chairman 888
Mega Fine in the Making
An official UKGC inquiry into William Hill’s activities is currently underway. According to reports from 888 Holdings, William Hill has not followed the rules and regulations set by the United Kingdom Gambling Authority (UKGC). This conclusion first emerged following an audit by the UKGC in the summer of 2021. The British authority has seized this opportunity to start an investigation into the exact activities of the gambling operator. Among other things, it looks at the lack of anti-money laundering measures that the company is accused of. In addition, the UKGC is investigating whether William Hill, under the current management of Caesars Entertainment Inc., has fulfilled its social responsibilities that need to promote Responsible Play above all. Pending the UKGC’s decision, William Hill has set aside £ 15 million (about NZ$ 29,07 million).
Banks Not Optimistic
The takeover also poses some problems for the banks that guaranteed 888. According to The Financial Times, the banks fear losses on a bond and loan deal worth £ 1 billion (NZ$ 1,94 billion). JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, the two banks leading the 888 bond and loan deal, are set to complete the sale this week. JPMorgan, however, has announced a postponement. According to JPMorgan, bond and loan fund managers considered the demand too low. Even investors were not tempted by the returns presented.
The banks have started marketing the transaction at a yield of 10%. Due to the low interest, the price is expected to be set even higher. Rising inflation and the prospect of higher interest rate hikes have affected investors’ risk appetite. As a result, European high-yield bond indices have fallen by about 15 percent this year.
On July 4, 888 Holdings issued a press release that “all of the Company’s issued share capital has been re-admitted to the listing segment of the Financial Conduct Authority’s official listing and to trading on the major market for listed securities of the London Stock Exchange plc.” Following the re-authorisation, the share capital of the Company 888 Holdings will consist of 446,331,656 ordinary shares of £0.005 (NZ$ 0,0097) each. 888 Holdings does not own any shares.
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