British billionaire bookie Fred Done denied reports that he mulls tabling a rival bid for William Hill, which last week accepted a £2.9 billion takeover offer from casino giant Caesars Entertainment Inc.
The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Mr. Done was weighing up a higher bid for William Hill, potentially starting a bidding war for the legacy British bookmaker.
After William Hill announced that it has received two rival initial offers from Caesars and private equity firm Apollo Management International, the Las Vegas casino operator last Monday made an official bid for the gambling operator.
Caesars said that it would focus on William Hill’s US business and would sell its retail betting estate in the UK and its European operations.
Mr. Done and multiple gambling companies are reported to be interested in William Hill’s non-US operations, but The Telegraph reported that the businessman considered bidding for the entire company.
William Hill operates 1,400 betting shops in the UK as well as gaming and sports betting websites in the UK, Spain, Sweden, and several other European markets. Online-only gambling operator 888 Holdings is among the companies interested in William Hill’s European operations.
A spokesperson for Mr. Done said over the weekend that neither the businessman nor Betfred would be bidding for William Hill.
Done Held Informal Discussions about William Hill’s Betting Shops
Mr. Done, who is William Hill’s second-largest stakeholder, reportedly held informal talks late last year over a potential bid for the gambling company’s betting shops to further strengthen Betfred’s retail network, which currently comprises 1,500 sites around the UK.
William Hill’s Board recommended Caesars’ takeover bid this past Wednesday, although some analysts believe that at £2.9 billion the offer undervalues the bookmaker’s actual worth and that its European operations alone are worth between $2 billion and $4.5 billion.
While more bids for William Hill might emerge, Caesars has leverage over the sports betting company. The casino operator owns 20% of William Hill’s US business and said in its offer that it could exercise its right to terminate an existing partnership that provides William Hill with the exclusive right to operate sportsbooks at Caesars casinos around the US.
William Hill’s US arm is the crown jewel in the proposed transaction. The company is a leader in the Nevada market with the largest network of betting sites in the Silver State and operates sports betting facilities in many of the states where wagering has become legal in the past two years.
Earlier this year, William Hill signed a media partnership with CBS Sports that made the bookmaker an Official Sports Book and Wagering Data provider across all CBS Sports platforms. The deal provided the bookmaker with access to CBS Sports Digital’s more than 80 million monthly users as well as to tens of millions of social media followers.
That deal, too, was believed to have played an important part in Caesars’ decision to acquire William Hill’s US business.
The transaction is subject to William Hill shareholders voting in favor as well as to regulatory scrutiny and is expected to close in the second half of 2021.
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