Caesars Entertainment Inc. and Apollo Global Management Inc. have reportedly signaled their interest to take over the U.K. gambling behemoth William Hill Plc. Two separate cash proposals were submitted by the firms to William Hill, who has confirmed that talks are in the informal phase, and that no formal offers have been put forward by either party.
As a result of the news, William Hill shares shot up by nearly 40 % in London last week. William Hill is currently valued at roughly $4 billion, in line with recent surges of stock prices among gambling giants such as Flutter Entertainment Plc (up 6.7%), GVC Holdings Plc (up 15.5%) and Caesars (up 8.4%).
Caesars is currently one of William Hill’s partners. William Hill’s goal of entrenching themselves in the U.S. gambling market was recently bolstered by the purchase of the sports betting firm CG technology, which already has a sportsbook presence in Nevada.
Gavin Kelleher, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers, stated that William Hill is most concerned about building its U.S. business. However, Kelleher believes that the William Hill’s potential choice between Caesars and Apollo could be decided by which company has better plans for their non-U.S. businesses.
Under U.K. takeover regulations, both Caesars and Apollo have to announce a takeover intention by October 23, 2020 with an official offer.
William Hill to Pivot to U.S. Market and iGaming
William Hill, launched in 1934, is one of the largest sports betting firms in the world, with offices in 10 countries. William Hill’s current CEO, Ulrik Bengtsson, who took over in 2019, has made it clear that his main focus is building their online businesses. Before taking over as CEO, Bengtsson was the firm’s chief digital officer.
Since 2018, William Hill has bet heavily on the U.S. gambling market. William Hill’s U.K. businesses have been hit by recent changes in gambling regulations, which imposed stake limits on gaming terminals, leading to the closure of around 700 of their venues. With U.K. gambling rules expected to tighten even more in the coming years, William Hill has looked to the U.S. market to recoup their recent losses.
William Hill’s market value has been surpassed by other European firms who transitioned to the U.S. online gambling market earlier. William Hill’s rival Flutter, owner of the Paddy Power brand, is now the largest online gambling firm after consolidating with Stars Group Inc. in May 2020.