888 Holdings Acquires William Hill’s non-US Business
It is not unusual for an online casino operator to acquire another one. Recently, 888 Holdings completed the acquisition of a rival, William Hill, but only for William Hill’s non-US assets and businesses. 888 Holdings acquired the property from Caesars Entertainment. 888 confirmed that it is installing a new leadership team. The former CEO and CFO of William Hill had to leave the group.
888 Holdings, now one of the biggest groups in the casino industry, is not changing its CEO, though. Itai Pazner will continue to be its leader with the support of CFO Yariv Dafna. The Chief Strategy Officer is Baughan Lewis, and the COO is Guy Cohen. They appointed a new Chief Risk Officer, Harinder Gill. The CEO also thanked Ulrik and Eric for their great work at William Hill and wished them well for their respective future.
888 Holdings announced that for any subsequent organisational changes, the intent is to maintain their momentum from the different sectors of their conglomerate. The group is looking forward to achieving a cost of at least £100 million by 2025 for all the acquisitions, and this estimate is pre-tax. The company is set to release its financial report for the first half of 2022 in August. By this time, they will report their financial status under four verticals.
- 888 (including US properties)
- William Hill Online UK
- William Hill International
- William Hill Retail UK
888’s CEO, Itai Pazner, said that he was delighted to announce the completion of the transformational combination with the acquired company, William Hill. He added that they had built an outstanding leadership team for a start, which combined the strengths of both businesses.
As the company looks into the future, the combined products of 888 and William Hill, along with the leadership team and their proprietary technology, expect that they will achieve powerful growth in their platforms.
The Chairman of 888, Lord Mendelsohn, said that the combination of the two businesses was going to create a powerful gaming and betting entity. The acquisition will bring value to the shareholders. They also anticipate that the acquisition will lead to the rise of leading technologies in the gaming and betting sectors.
As a result of this acquisition, the shares of 888 surged by 30%. The company’s strategy also involves reducing its capital raise to fund the acquisition. What this means is that 888 paid a smaller price to buy William Hill’s international assets from Caesar. This price change is due to economic and regulatory conditions. Caesars bought William Hill for $4 billion in 2021. It was in September of the same year when Caesars agreed to sell William Hill for $2.88 billion, but only for its non-US assets.
888’s acquisition is one of the largest to happen in the UK. Now that it is completed, it will give 888 access to William Hill’s large customer base, which comprises two million active customers at 1,408 betting shops in the UK alone.
Will the William Hill shops close? No, they will not. According to Pazner, 888 will keep the shops. The shops are operating well and are profitable. Pazner also added that the betting shops of William Hill went through several transformations in the last year.
Despite the acquisition, William Hill is going through a license review by the UKGC (UK Gambling Commission). William Hill is addressing some points that the commission raised—things that have something to do with social responsibility and anti-money laundering.
888, meanwhile, has assets in online sports betting, poker and online casinos. Now, the company plans to issue somewhere about 70.8 million shares. The final price that the 888 shareholders approved was between $2.55 and $2.68 billion. This approval happened in May. The net proceeds from the transaction for Caesar are $730 million. 888 is in traction to continue buying assets such as SI Sportsbook and Mr. Green.
Caesars is one of the biggest casino operators in the US. It is one of the few companies with the most diversified portfolio in the gambling industry. Caesars had its humble beginnings in Nevada back in 1937. It grew through the development of resorts and expansions. They also acquired several properties, and they operated under different brand names.
When Caesars acquired William Hill in 2021, it was part of a bigger consolidation. Many US companies followed Caesar’s lead by acquiring UK-based companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Acquisitions happened because the US opened up to sports betting.
Overall, 888 saved 100 million GBP in this acquisition. It is a great move, one that its largest shareholder supports, which is Dalia Shaked Trust. This trusted company owns 23% of 888 Holdings.
What will happen to William Hill? William Hill intends to dispose of all of its US assets and concentrate on the US only. The catalyst prompted the William Hill executives to sell non-US properties of the company. Although William Hill said that it was selling its non-US assets because of regulatory changes, some surmise that the sale was because the company was going through a review by the UKGC.