Friday, September 10, 2021

888 Holdings Buys William Hill's European Business For $2.6 Billion

888 Holding, the Gibraltar-based gaming group, closed on Thursday the purchase of the international business of William Hill, one of the oldest betting operators in the United Kingdom, in a deal in which it will pay 2.6 billion euros to Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars Entertainment, a US casino giant, closed just a few months ago the purchase of William Hill for about 3.4 billion, although it will retain operations in the US, where the regulation of sports betting opens up an incipient and gigantic market. Therefore, 888 takes over the entire William Hill business in its home market, the UK, and in the rest of Europe, creating a gaming group with a turnover in excess of 2 billion euros.

The transaction allows 888, more specialized in other types of games, to grow exponentially in the world of sports betting, both physically and especially online, being the fastest growing category in this channel. According to the documentation provided yesterday by the company, William Hill has three million active users through its platform and also Mr. Green, its brand focused on casino games. It also has 1,400 physical bookmakers.

The combination of both businesses will allow 888 to position itself in third place among online gambling operators in the United Kingdom, the largest European market and where competition is strongest; and also in other countries that the company identifies as key for the future, such as Spain. Here it will also reach third place and a combined market share of 10.55%. Of this, 3.5% belongs to William Hill and 7% to the 888 brands.

888 Holding will finance the entire acquisition, closed at a multiple of 9.2 times William Hill's ebitda, through bank financing obtained from JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Mediobanca. In addition, it plans to undertake a capital increase of approximately 600 million. Before this, 888's shareholders will have to approve the transaction.

"The acquisition will create one of the world leaders in online gaming and betting with superior scale, excellent brands, greater diversification and a platform for strong growth," said 888 CEO Itai Pazner. He confirmed that the firm will maintain its dividend policy of allocating 50% of profits to dividends. 

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