M&A News

The board of directors of William Hill and Amaya are in talks about a potential merger of the two businesses.

The companies are considering a “potential all share merger of equals” that would combine William Hill’s sports betting-led online and retail offering with Amaya’s dominance in the poker market through its PokerStars brand.

The board of William Hill said Friday that it has been evaluating ways to accelerate its diversification strategy, having recorded a period of decline which claimed the scalp of chief executive James Henderson in July.

The London-listed operator subsequently became the subject of a joint bid from 888 and Rank Group, only for the attempt to be rebuffed.

Toronto-listed Amaya also recently established a special board committee to consider potential takeover bids from former chief executive David Baazov and others.

The two companies said that a merger of their businesses would be consistent with each operator’s strategic objectives, creating “a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino.”

The deal would constitute a reverse takeover under the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s Listing Rules and is therefore not subject to the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers.

Citigroup Global Markets and Macquarie Capital are serving as William Hill’s financial advisors in the merger discussions, with Amaya represented by Barclays Bank.

Shares in William Hill plc (Co.Data) (LSE:WMH) closed down 4.26 per cent at 294.60 pence per share in London Friday (October 7th), while Amaya Inc (Co.Data) (TSX:AYA) saw its share price rise 9.14 per cent to CAD$23.41 per share in Toronto before trading in the shares was temporarily suspended.