Online gambling company 888 Holdings announced before its shareholders that it has received all the necessary gaming regulatory and antitrust approvals for the $2.9 billion acquisition of the non-US business of William Hill, to take place in the first quarter of 2022.
There are some remaining closing conditions that 888 must meet before the deal can go ahead. This includes a shareholder vote scheduled for early 2022; the reorganization of the William Hill group in order to separate its non-US operations; and shares-related approvals from the London Stock Exchange and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
Following the completion of this acquisition, 888 will become the third-largest gambling operator in the UK, after Flutter Entertainment and Entain.
888 Holdings Chief Executive Itai Pazner spoke about this deal’s progress and said: “This transaction will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, leading technology, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth, supported by a portfolio of iconic brands.”
Caesars Entertainment completed its $3.9 billion takeover of William Hill in April 2021, but soon sold the arm as it had no interest in the non-US assets of the company. As well as 888 Holdings, private equity firm Apollo Global Management, Tipico, and Betfred all considered the opportunity at some point. Ultimately, Caesars and 888 agreed to a deal in September.
If the deal completes, it will represent the first time 888 has entered the retail space. Pazner believes that the retail operations will help the operator as advertising rules look set to tighten in the UK. He affirmed that the retail offering will become a core asset, adding: “A presence on the high street is an added benefit from a brand perspective.”
888 has made some personnel appointments in order to prepare for the integration of William Hill’s operations. This includes the appointment of Guy Cohen as Senior Vice President, Director of Integration. The company is also planning to raise about $667 million through the issuance of new equity. This is set to take place before the finalization of the acquisition.
William Hill attempted to take over 888 in 2015, but its biggest shareholder blocked the deal. In a turn of events the following year, 888 and the Rank Group worked together in an unsuccessful effort to take over William Hill.