888 Holdings won the right to buy William Hill’s European business for $2.7 billion
According to a Times report, 888 Holdings will be able to buy a full stake in the European operations of major bookmaker and online casino operator William Hill. 888 managed to outbid its main rival Apollo Global Management by offering more than £2 billion ($2.76 billion).
Earlier, gambling and hospitality giant Caesars Entertainment acquired William Hill in a £2.9 billion deal, making it one of the largest mergers in gambling history. Shortly thereafter, however, Caesars decided to sell the British bookmaker’s European assets.
Neither party has yet voiced any comment on the outcome of the deal. Last week, 888 CEO Itai Posner said, “We are now in a really strong position, as are our products in general. We intend to expand and are ready to take advantage of any interesting opportunities to pursue our organic growth strategy.”
At the start of the bidding process, William Hill’s entire business in Europe was expected to be worth around £1.5 billion. But after several international casino operators entered the fray for assets, the numbers began to gradually creep up. At the outset, German gambling group Tipico was bidding alongside other large companies such as Apollo Global Management, Betfred and Advent International. After Advent refused to continue the fight, the process turned into a race of three contenders – Apollo, 888 and CVC Capital Partners (Tipico’s partner).
Apollo was considered the favorite, but CVC had some advantage because it previously owned William Hill facilities. In the end, the bid from partner Tipico was rejected. This left Apollo and 888 as the two finalists in the bidding and negotiation process.
What will happen to William Hill bookmakers is currently unknown. Previously, 888 speculated that it may retain the company’s retail division.
Recall that Relax Gaming has announced a partnership with PokerStars.