888 Holdings Plc is buying the international operations of bookmaker William Hill outside the United States from casino group Caesars for 2.2 billion pounds (2.57 billion euros).
The online gambling firm stated the deal with casino giant Caesars Entertainment would include William Hill’s 1,400 UK betting shops. 888 has until now been a pure online player, whereas William Hill’s shops have long been a feature of British streets.
This is the largest 888’s purchase since listing in London nearly two decades ago, it will also give the firm access to William Hill’s 2 million active UK customers. In addition, the deal is set to create a combined group with more than 12,000 employees, while it will aim for savings of about £100m a year as a result of the purchase.
In order to fund the Acquisition, 888 has obtained fully committed debt financing from J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley
and Mediobanca of approximately £2.1 billion, which includes approximately £1.6 billion (equivalent) of term loans
and approximately £500m (equivalent) of bridge loans/senior secured notes. 888 has also obtained a fully
committed revolving credit facility of £150m.
According to the CEO of 888, Itai Pazner, the online gambling company will be able to use the William Hill brand everywhere except the U.S., where Caesars still owns it. The two businesses will work on creating a joint management team.
The CEO of 888, Itai Pazner, said:
“Our strategies are also complementary, being digitally led, customer focused, and committed to player protection and raising industry standards around safer gambling.
“We are also excited about the opportunities that the retail business provides and see significant brand benefits.”
William Hill chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: “The William Hill and 888 strategies are highly complementary with an absolute focus on the product and customer experience.
“Scale is increasingly important in our sector and the combination of the businesses will provide a powerful alignment of brands and technology.”
Caesars Entertainment corporate acquired Willin Hill for 2.9 billion pounds earlier this year. It was part of a wider consolidation in the gambling industry, with American companies buying out London-listed groups to gain more expertise as the United States opens up to sports betting.
Caesars had indicated it did not want to hold on to other parts of the group.
“We have found an owner for the William Hill business outside the U.S. which shares the same objectives, approaches and longer-term ambitions of that business,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said.
About William Hill
Founded in 1934, William Hill plc is a recognised and trusted brand in the global sports betting and gaming market. The William Hill brand started out when its founder set up a postal and phone-based betting business.
The first betting shop in the UK was opened in the mid-1960s, shortly after their presence on High Streets was made legal. Besides the UK, William Hill Internacional also has operations in Spain, Italy, and the Nordics.