International edition
October 26, 2020

Competition laws would preclude the firm from acquiring the business outright

William Hill confirms interest in parts of Tote

(UK).- William Hill has registered an interest in buying parts of state-owned bookmaker, the Tote, CEO Ralph Topping told reporters on a conference call last week.

T

opping said the group had expressed its interest to Goldman Sachs, the U.S. investment bank appointed by the British government to examine options for the business.

"We met with Goldman Sachs to register an interest as part of the process. If they were going to break up the business to get the best price, we’d be looking for some ’in-fill’ outlets - in places where we aren’t geographically represented at the moment," Topping said.

Competition laws would preclude William Hill from acquiring the business outright. Earlier this month, the British government said it has begun preparations for a possible sale of the business on the open market in the autumn. Topping declined to say how many of the Tote’s 540 shops William Hill would be interested in.

Topping also said he believes William Hill’s business is more resilient now to a recession than it was in the early 1990s when bookmakers’ profitability came under pressure.

"The business has significantly changed since the 1990s. We’ve got a wider geographical spread. Back then we were overweight in London and the South East. Since then our development has been more focused on the provinces.

"We’re in a stronger position and we’ve also diversified our product. Back then, we had a big dependency on two products - horseracing and greyhound racing and very little in the way of sports betting."

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