Rank Group and 888 drop pursuit of William Hill

The two UK betting companies abandoned their pursuit of William Hill, after the bookmaker rejected a €3.5 billion bid.

UK.- Casino and bingo hall operator Rank Group and online gambling company 888 Holdings have withdrawn their proposal to merge with rival bookmaker William Hill. The companies stated that they made the decision after failing to engage with the board of William Hill and under UK takeover rules, they can’t legally make a hostile bid for at least six months.

Tai Frieberger, 888 Chief Executive Officer, said that they’re disappointed that the board of William Hill didn’t share their vision of the combined business and they believe that there was compelling industrial logic for the merge of these highly complementary businesses. The proposed transaction would have created a transformational force in the global betting and gaming industry and the UK’s largest multichannel gambling operator by revenue and profit.

William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis said: “We will continue to focus our efforts on our strategy to deliver value for shareholders. The team has a clear plan to grow by diversifying digitally and internationally.”

The company spurned the consortium’s initial cash-and-shares proposal, saying it substantially undervalued the business. It rejected a revised takeover proposal on Monday, saying it continued to see no merit in engaging with the consortium.

Berenberg analysts commented that its unlikely that other suitors would emerge for William Hill, considering that the company is too big for other UK betting operators to absorb it easily.