Itai Pazner confirmed as CEO

888 completes non-US William Hill acquisition from Caesars; former CEO Ulrik Bengtsson leaves the company

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888.
Reading time 2:39 min

Caesars Entertainment's sale of the international, non-US assets of William Hill to 888 Holdings is now completed, as announced by the three companies on Friday. As part of the organizational changes, Ulrik Bengtsson and Eric Hageman, former CEO and CFO of William Hill, will be leaving 888.

Las Vegas-based Caesars first bought British bookmaker William Hill in a $4 billion deal, completed in April last year —one of the largest mergers within the gambling industry in recent years. The company then agreed to sell William Hill’s non-US assets to 888 for £2.2 billion ($2.88 billion), a transaction unveiled in September. However, 888 Holdings informed in an acquisition update in April that enterprise value was then reduced to £1.95 - £2.05 billion ($2.55 - $2.68 billion). The transaction was approved by 888 shareholders in May. After the repayment of debt and other working capital adjustments, Caesars said Friday it received net proceeds of $730 million. 

888 Holdings, which already owned SI Sportsbook and Mr Green, confirmed current CEO Itai Pazner in the same role. The same continuity decision was made for Chief Financial Officer Yariv Dafna, Chief Strategy Officer Vaughan Lewis, and Chief Operating Officer Guy Cohen —who has been interim COO of 888, having previously been responsible for 888's B2C business—.

On Friday, 888 said Harinder Gill was appointed as Chief Risk Officer, and will take up his role from August 3. He was formerly the Group Head of Regulatory Compliance at Revolut. Naama Kushnir, who previously held the role of COO at 888, will serve as Chief Transformation Officer at 888.

Transitioning from William Hill to 888 are Chief Product and Technology Officer Satty Bhens, who was appointed as CPTO of William Hill in 2019, having previously been a Partner at McKinsey & Company; Managing Director UK Phil Walker, who was appointed as UK MD in 2020, having previously been online managing director, following a series of senior roles at Gala Coral and Ladbrokes Coral; and Chief People Officer Mark Skinner, who was appointed Chief People Officer of William Hill in 2021.  

Former William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson

888 further said that any future organizational changes will be managed "with the primary objective of maintaining momentum within each business, and maximising the benefits of this complementary combination as the Group looks to achieve the potential revenue and cost benefits of integration, with anticipated pre-tax cost synergies of at least £100 million to be fully delivered by 2025."

Upon completion, the Group will initially report results in four segments: 888, including the US; William Hill Online UK; William Hill Retail UK; William Hill International. 888 currently intends to report its interim results in August 2022, and will begin to report financial results in Pounds Sterling from this point.

CEO Itai Pazner commented on the completion of the acquisition in a press release Friday: "I am delighted to announce the completion of our transformational combination with William Hill. We have built an outstanding leadership team, combining strengths from across both businesses, and as I look at the future, the combination of our product and content leadership, powered by our proprietary technology, and our world class brands, gives us a powerful platform for growth. I'd like to thank Ulrik and Eric for the great job they have done at William Hill and I wish them well for the future."

Lord Mendelsohn, Chair of 888, stated: "This combination brings together two high quality businesses to create a powerful, global betting and gaming business. We believe the acquisition will create significant value for shareholders, creating a combined business with leading technology, products and brands across sports betting and gaming. With a top quality management team, formed from talent from across both businesses, I am confident about our future plans."

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