888 Holdings has confirmed that it is closing in on a deal to buy William Hill’s European business from Caesars Entertainment.
UK.- The UK-based gaming operator 888 Holdings has confirmed that it is in advanced talks to buy William Hill’s European business, including its UK retail network, from Caesars Entertainment.
The Times has reported that 888 has already won the auction for the assets, which Caesars Entertainment put up for sale after its £2.9bn acquisition of William Hill in April. However, 888 Holdings said there is still no guarantee the transaction will close.
According to The Times, 888 Holdings will pay at least £2bn – above the expected price of £1.5bn. Its offer is reported to have beaten those put forward by rival bidders, which included the US private equity fund Apollo Global Management.
The deal, which was coordinated by Deutsche Bank, would cover William Hill’s 1,400 betting shops and the European websites WilliamHill.com and MrGreen.com.
Apollo Global had been seen as favourites in the auction. It has already competed against Caesars for a complete buyout of William Hill, therefore had a close understanding of the firm’s operations.
Other contenders who were reported to be interested in buying the assets included Entain, Betfred owner Fred Done, Germany’s Tipico and another US private equity fund, Advent International.
Fred Done is reported to still be interested in William Hill’s high street betting shops, but 888 is said to have suggested that it would keep hold of them itself should its acquisition go ahead.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, 888 said: “888 notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it is in advanced discussions with Caesars Entertainment regarding a possible acquisition of the international (non-US) business of William Hill.
“There can be no certainty that these advanced discussions will result in a transaction. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”
Earlier this month, 888 Holdings reported record profit for the first half of 2021 after seeing “stong momentum” in the second quarter.