Caesars to Sell up UK Division of William Hill
Globally operating UK-based bookmaker William Hill is to see all of its operations outside the US auctioned off by its new owner, Caesars Entertainment.
The giant US land-based and online casino operator Caesars only recently bought out the entire William Hill business after fending off a late lawsuit from hedge fund shareholders in the British operator that aimed to stop the deal.
The $4 billion acquisition was finally signed off on at the end of April. Caesars made it clear during negotiations that its main interest was William Hill’s US division – so a sale of the rest of the brand was always on the table.
“I can’t tell you we’re good at running a non-U.S. digital business,” said Caesars CEO, Tom Reeg. “But I can tell you that there are almost certainly people out there that will do it [running William Hill] better than us and see opportunity there.”
All of William Hill’s 1,400 betting shops, plus various online casinos and betting sites across the UK and Ireland, will be up for sale.
A final price has not been revealed by Caesars as of yet, but it is projected to be in the range of $1.5 to $2 billion.
Early interested parties in buying up the newly available British William Hill business include New York private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Israel’s 888 Holdings, according to British newspaper The Telegraph.
Apollo previously tabled a bid for the entire company before Caesars stepped in with a better offer for WH shareholders.
It has also tabled a bid for Australian operator Tabcorp in a two-horse race with global gambling megacorp Entain.
Meanwhile, 888 has been reportedly interested in William Hill for many years and is coming off a bumper Q1 in which revenues grew by 65%.
“We have mentioned William Hill in the past, that could be something that we would be looking at. And I won’t change my comment on that,”Itai Pazner, 888’s CEO, told reporters previously.
Although the company tripled its revenue on the same time last year, Caesars itself actually reported a large $423 million loss in Q1 2021 – along with tens of billions in debt.
However, share prices remain strong, and investors are confident, so they are reportedly looking to get any sale through rather quickly.
Another potential bidder for William Hill’s non-US operations is Swedish operator Kindred, owner of online provider Unibet, who is growing quickly in the US markets.
Lastly, for the outside bet, if you will, we have the UK’s billionaire owner of Betfred, Fred Done. However, he is reportedly only interested in the chain’s iconic betting shop premises, which he would look to incorporate into his own brand.
This probably wouldn’t suit Caesars, which is likely looking to offload the business as a whole quickly and efficiently.
“We can deploy that capital into businesses that I know will drive better returns to shareholders. So, no, we’ve not had a moment’s pause in terms of selling the non-U.S. William Hill business.”CEO Mr. Reeg
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