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Caesars Entertainment and William Hill agree £2.9bn acquisition

30th September 2020 8:27 am GMT
William Hill

Caesars Entertainment and William Hill have agreed the terms of Caesars proposed £2.9bn acquisition of William Hill.

The companies said Wednesday that the historic acquisition would bring together Caesars as one of the largest gaming-entertainment companies in the US and one of the world's most diversified gaming entertainment provisions, and William Hill as one of the world's leading betting and gambling companies.

The acquisition will enable the two companies to broaden the scope of their existing joint venture in the United States to fully maximize the opportunity in sports betting and gaming, with William Hill’s UK and non-US international businesses likely to be sold.

The proposed acquisition will see Caesars UK Bidco offer 272 pence for each share in William Hill, representing a 25 per cent premium on the closing price of William Hill’s shares on September 24, with the proposal set to be put to a vote of shareholders at a court meeting and general meeting of the company. It will need the support of at least 75 per cent of William Hill shareholders to pass, with the acquisition expected to close in the second half of 2021.

“The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting prospect,” said Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg. “William Hill's sports betting expertise will complement Caesars' current offering, enabling the combined group to serve our customers in the fast-growing U.S. sports betting and online market. We look forward to working with William Hill to support future growth in the US by providing our customers with a superior and comprehensive experience across all areas of gaming, sports betting, and entertainment.”

Roger Devlin, chairman of William Hill, commented: “The William Hill Board believes this is the best option for William Hill at an attractive price for shareholders. It recognizes the significant progress the William Hill Group has made over the last 18 months, as well as the risk and significant investment required to maximize the US opportunity given intense competition in the US and the potential for regulatory disruption in the UK and Europe.

“Under the revitalized senior leadership team, William Hill has been delivering on its strategy and potential. William Hill is one of the world's leading betting and gambling companies, with a long and proud heritage. It is one of the most recognized brands globally. Over recent years, it has transformed from a business once heavily reliant on UK retail into a company that is truly diversified by geography and channel, providing a stable standalone platform for future growth,” Devlin added.

“For now, it is very much business as usual. Employees will be kept fully informed through this process. In terms of our UK and International businesses, we believe they have a strong future ahead and we will work with Caesars to find suitable partners to further the long-term growth prospects of these businesses.”

William Hill had also received an acquisition proposal from Apollo Management this month, however, that was scuppered by Caesars Entertainment on Monday when the company warned that it would terminate its joint venture with William Hill if the company was sold to Apollo.

Shares in William Hill plc. (LSE:WMH) were trading at 273.90 pence per share in London early Wednesday morning, while shares in Caesars Entertainment Inc. (NSQ:CZR) closed 6.39 per cent lower at 54.49 per share in New York Tuesday.

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